There are quite a few surprises regarding Michelin recognition in Japan, including at least two ramen restaurants, one of which released a cup noodle version of their own award-winning ramen. Perhaps the most surprising of the bunch, however, is a dish served at a small eating space in Tottori called Hot Air. If that doesn't sound like the name of a restaurant, that's because it isn't--it's a used auto shop that just happens to serve Michelin-lauded ramen.

Since he was 5-years-old, Katsumi Yoshida had been exposed to the many varieties and delicious flavors of ramen by his grandmother, who took him to many different shops. This sampling of different styles of ramen carried over into his adult life, where he built up a routine of sampling local ramen shops at towns across Japan he visited when delivering used cars. In doing so he developed a preference for ramen that tickled his umami preference, having developed an interest in salt, sardines, and chicken bones as key ingredients.

As car dealings can take quite a bit of time, he renovated a space of his dealership into an eating space for customers to use as they waited--and slowly but surely, rumors spread of the tasty ramen. Yoshida says the moment a suited man walked into his dealership to eat ramen he knew something was different, and his suspicions were confirmed when the man revealed himself to be a Michelin official who was very pleased with his shio (salt broth) ramen. So pleased that the autoshop was recognized by Michelin recognized it in last month's "Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka + Tottori 2019" as Bib Gourmand, a categorization that "recognizes restaurants offering quality food at a maximum of 5,000 JPY". At 800 yen for a bowl, that's a steal!

While Tottori isn't often touted at the top of many "must visit" Japan tourist lists, if you're in Japan and want to try high end gourmet ramen for such a low price, perhaps think of visiting this used car shop! You can visit the Facebook and Twitter of Yoshida to check in on address and schedule.

By - Big Neko.