From michelin-star ramen, franchised ramen, to special ramen, these 10 places are some of the best ramen in Tokyo. Reminder: snaking queue is expected.
We pick out a few places that will make sure you slurp them up well and loud, Tokyo-style.
When you crave, we rave. Ramen, the original recipe for piping hot and slurp-licious noodles, can’t be missed out in a Tokyo diet. The mind-boggling question would be which outlet to patronise? We’ve picked out a few places for you.
One of the most affordable Michelin experiences: Nakiryu
That explains perfectly why there is a line at any hour you visit. Tourists and locals queue at this nondescript ramen shop to savour a bowl of soulful and hearty taste of Japan. The atmosphere doesn’t boast of its accolades and makes the intense flavours and attention to detail a rewarding surprise. Expect hints of spice and creaminess from the sesame seeds and handmade noodles that go well with the soup. The roast pork tops it up with its tenderness and succulence. Although they use tantanmen, which is the Chinese version of the Japanese dish, Nakiryu will make you understand why they got into Michelin’s good books.
Address: 2-34-10, Minamiohtsuka, Toyoshima-ku, Tokyo, 1700005, Japan
Opening Hours: Wed to Sun, 11:30am to 3:00pm & 6:00pm to 9:00pm; Mon, 11:30am to 3:00pm; Closed on Tue
Tel: +81 3 6304 1811
Join the dedicated fans: Motenashi Kuroki
Boasting its own cult following, you should also expect to be in line with many local businessmen who commit their entire lunch break to this ramen shop. Their salt blend of five or six different salts from the ocean, mountains and lakes is what tickles the taste buds and leaves you wanting for more. The unique concoction of salts that defines the soup is complemented by herb roasted pork with tomato, onion and garlic. They serve special flavours such as kobe beef and matsutake mushroom ramen, which are limited to 20 bowls a day at the very most.
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Address: Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda, Izumicho 2-15 Yonren Building 3 1F
Opening Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu & Sat, 1130am to 3:00pm & 6:00pm to 9:00pm; Wed, 11:30am to 3:00pm; *Operates as Ushio Kuroki on Fridays
Tel: +81 3 3863 7117
Website: Motenashi Kuroki (Japanese)
The Hit in San Fran: Mensho
Ironically, unlike its SF counterpart, the outlet in Tokyo is a bit of an undiscovered gem. It hasn’t caught on as quickly as it did in America, but the skills behind your bowl of ramen here is some kinda next-level stuff: the use of sea salt from around Japan, freshly-ground barley for the making of the noodles and standard toppings that include scallops dusted with burnt onion power, konbu marinated chicken slices and karasumi, a kind of aged fish roe. The culinary master brings back a farm-to-bowl principle from his time spent in SF, and it is time for us to savour it in Tokyo.
Address: 1 Chome-15-９ Kasuga, Bunkyō, Tokyo 112-0003, Japan
Opening Hours: Wed to Mon, 11:00am to 3:00pm & 5:00pm to 11:00pm; Closed on Tue
Tel: +81 3 3830 0842
Taste of Kyushu: Tanaka Shoten
Tonkotsu ramen originated in Kyushu, the south of Japan. The soup is sinfully thick and flavourful, made of 100% pork bones. Expect hectic, family-style fun, where orders are shouted freely in the air and wait staff are scurrying to bring them to you. While you are here, you should partake in the ritual of consuming the Kyushu-style tonkotsu ramen – eat some noodles and drink a bit of soup, then season with the counter top condiments. Once your noodles are finished, order kaedema, an extra serving of noodles, to add to the leftover soup in your bowl.
Address: Tokyo, Adachi-ku, Hitotsuya 2-14-6
Opening Hours: 6:00pm to 4:00am daily
Tel: +81 3 3860 3232
Website: Tanaka Shoten
A franchise that’s worth it: Ichiran Ramen
If you aren’t in the mood to queue for your hot serving of noodles, just head to an Ichiran in the district you are in, whether in Shibuya, Harajuku or Roppongi. They also serve a neat recipe of the classic pork-based tonkotsu soup, topped with Ichiran’s original red pepper mixed with three types of spices. The partially-mechanised system of ordering your ramen from a vending machine cuts your waiting time by a little, because after all, robots are better than humans, right? After which, you will sit down in your cubicle with your piping hot ramen to complete your fuss-free experience.
Address: 3-34-11 Shinjuku, Peace Bldg B1F, Shinjuku 3 Chome, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo Prefecture
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Tel: +81 3 3225 5518
Address: 4-11-11 Roppongi, 2F, Minato 106-0032, Tokyo Prefecture
Opening Hours: 11:00am to 6:00am daily
Tel: +81 3-3796-7281
Address: 1-22-7 Jinnan, Iwamoto Bldg. B1F, Shibuya 150-0041, Tokyo Prefecture
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Tel: +81 3 3463 3667
Address: Japan, 6-5-6 Jingumae, 2F, Shibuya, Tokyo Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 10:45pm daily
Tel: +81 3 3407 5911
For other outlets, visit Ichiran Ramen's website.
Let me shoyu Ikebukuro: Chuka Soba Shinagawa
Ikebukuro is a place where you will find ramen at every corner, but here’s one that serves the classic bowl with high quality ingredients. It is no wonder that it made it to the Bib Gourmand list, which honours exceptional, good food at moderate prices. Their shoyu ramen, as conventional as it is, comes in two types of menu – one for lunch and one for dinner. Both menus are worth trying, and don’t forget to add Tokusei topping, which includes roast pork slices, soft-boiled egg, lightly pickled bamboo shoots and dried laver.
Address: Tokyo, Toshima, Nishi-Ikebukuro 4-19-14
Opening Hours: Tue to Sun, 11:30am to 3:30pm & 6:00pm to 9:00pm; Closed on Mon
Tel: +81 3 5926 6178
Website: Chuka Soba Shinagawa (Japanese)
Duck tales: Fukumaru
If you prefer something different, try a broth made up of 100% duck. Situated in Sasazuka, you may bump into some hipters that have just walked over from the café nearby. The win in Fukumaru’s ramen is their paitan, or creamy soup. The duck bones are cooked over high heat to draw out the collagen and the soup is almost white in colour. They also serve clear soup, but first, try their paitan.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Hatagaya 1-9-6
Opening Hours: Tue to Sat, 11:00am to 3:00pm & 6:00pm to 11:00pm; Sun, 11:00am to 10:00pm; Closed on Mon
Tel: +81 3 6276 0027