Published on March 13, 2020.
Ramen in Tokyo
From the day I arrived in Japan I fell in love with ramen. There is no other food that has found its way into my heart, and my stomache, like ramen has.
When choosing which ramen shops to include on this list, I had a simple criteria. Would I recommend this shop to a Japanese friend? It is a common stereotype that foreigners will start drooling over any typical ramen shop and later proclaim "It's the best ramen I've ever had!" on Google reviews. While I agree many, if not most ramen shops are delicious, only some are worthy being put on a recommended list.
The ramen shops listed below won't be found in any "Top 10 best ramen shops in Tokyo", or other similar lists. They were made famous because of their ramen is loved by the locals who eat there regularly.
麺屋 大和田 | Map
Located in the heart of Shibuya, if you come here past midnight you might encounter some Shibuya Metldown. The dark broth of this ramen is very salty and very tasty. On top of the noodles is grilled pork, crispy nori and a yolky egg. The inside of the shop is tiny, only able to seat 8 at a time, and usually filled with salary men and hip hop music. Experience the nightlife of Shibuya and ackowledge that you cannot knock Jay Z's hustle.
Ramen Jirou Kaminoge
ラーメン二郎 上野毛店 | Map
If you are in search of oily, fatty jiro ramen that will make your gut burst, look no further. Starting at ¥700, the ramen bowls here are topped with thick cuts of pork, a boiled egg, a generous plop of garlic and a massive heap of bean sprouts. In my experience, there is often a queue that is a 20 to 30 minute wait. When they will ask you your preference of vegetables and garlic, simply respond with ましお願いします (mashi onegaishimasu) and the ramen master will hook you up with the largest bowl of ramen you have ever seen.
麺屋こころ 溝の口店 | Map
While technically not ramen, I could not exclude this mazesoba shop from the list. A tapestry of seaweed flakes, green onions, chives, minced garlic, nori (dried seaweed), chashu (pork), spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, and a soft-boiled egg mixed together to create a brothless noodle bowl that will make you not want to come up for air until you finish all of it. Mazesoba is a newcomer to the ramen game (like me), created in 2008 in Nagoya. Kokoro is a chain of mazesoba shops that you can find all over Tokyo.
鶏と魚だしのつけめん哲 溝の口店 | Map
A local favorite, this shop gets very busy around lunch time. If you can endure the wait you will be rewarded with a simmering bowl of thick, oily, fishy tasting broth with slices of thick pork alongside a plate of noodles. On top of the noodles is some extra crispy fried chicken. This tsukemen will leave you feeling full, heavy and happy.
濃厚鶏そば 晴壱 | Map
Inside the famous Golden Gai bar district, Ramen Nagi is open 24 hours, which means this is the perfect place for a late night bowl of noodles. The fish broth Shoyu ramen is very pungent. The pink pork, small fish, nori and green onion and completed by a dab of chili sauce to give this ramen a kick. Slurp the fishy broth and crack open the egg to see the lava of yolk ooze out.
濃厚鶏そば 晴壱 | Map
Haru Ichi is a ramen noodle bowl with rich, creamy chicken broth topped with cuts of delicious chicken, green onion, radish and bamboo shoots served with a slice of lemon on the side. Squeezing the lemon is optional, but slurping the broth at the end is not. Within walking distance of Shinjuku station, this ramen shop is a popular lunch spot for many working in the area.
Nagahama ramen Hakatakko
長浜ラーメン 博多っ子 | Map
This unassuming shop serves up some delicious Hakata ramen at a very cheap price of ¥650. Open until 3AM and cash-only, you won't find gaijin tourists here or culinary experts, just ordinary people who love ramen. The tonkatsu (pork bone) broth is not too thick or heavy, featuring garlic and a hefty amount of green onion on top. Order a plate of extra fried pork and a large bottle of beer to feel like real salaryman.
Even though this article is titled 'Ramen in Tokyo' it felt wrong to not include some great ramen shops that I've been to in other parts of the country.
Ramen Jiro Sendai shop
ラーメン二郎 仙台店 | Map
If you visit Sendai, eating at this ramen shop is a must. The queue is always long, an indicator of how bomb the ramen here is. Once inside, you need to place your order quickly or else face the rath of the ramen master who does not put up with chatting or anything else besides eating your bowl as fast as you can. The portions are absoluelty gigantic, twice as big as a normal bowl. Just ask for たくさん (takusan) when asked about how much vegetables and garlic you want and you will receive a bowl piled higher than the nearby mountains.
らぁめん みそ家 | Map
Right next to Nagano Station, the menu is simple and the ramen is delicious. You have a choice between miso ramen and spicy miso ramen. Place your order and watch the chef fry the onions and carrots that will soon be in your bowl. No surprises, just heart warming ramen, perfect after getting off the Shinkansen on your way to a ski resort.
I am always looking for new ramen shops to try. If you have recommendations email me at [email protected]