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Menya Kissou - Best Ramen in Tokyo! [Review] w/ Pics

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exilekiss Apr 13, 2008 06:39 PM

(Formatted w/ Pictures version found here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/04...

)

We had been on a small streak of somewhat disappointing meals (the previous day's lunch and dinner), but I was determined to break that streak, and try out some of the great, little-known restaurants, thanks to Chowhounder Silverjay, kamiosaki and others. Having tried out a basic Japanese Ramen chain earlier in the week (and having that surpass all the Ramen I've had back home in L.A.), I wasn't sure how much better it could get. We set out after the morning visit to Asakusa to find Menya Kissou, located somewhere in Koto-ku.

We arrived in Koto-ku, nervous and excited. Thanks to Silverjay's advice, I learned that Menya Kissou is THE #1 Rated Ramen Shop on Ramendb (Ramen Database - a website driven by an *entire nation* of Ramen Fanatics, giving a pretty good picture of what might be good (^_~)), and simultaneously the #1 Rated Ramen Shop on Tabelog (another great customer-driven Food Site in Japan, with great, detailed ratings and reviews).

After walking around the quaint, quiet Japanese neighborhood where Menya Kissou was supposed to be, we turned a corner into (literally) a tiny back alley and saw a line of people. Bingo! We found it.

We arrived early (pre-lunch), around ~11:15 a.m., and in this tiny back alley, in a quiet neighborhood in Koto District, the Ramen shop was already full, and there was a line of ~13-15 people outside! This wasn't some over-popular district like Shibuya or Roppongi, either. Just a small, quiet neighborhood. Upon closer inspection, this Ramen-ya's Business Hours sign was just as impressive: They are open *only* 3.5 hours per day (for lunch), and will close shop even earlier when they run out of their Noodles or Soup! Wow.

Their simple menu belies the greatness within:

On their menu, they serve the popular Tsukemen (dipping-style Ramen popular in Tokyo), as well as having the traditional Ramen and ingredients all in the same bowl. They had a variety of *seemingly* standard toppings (Egg, Nori Seaweed, Chashu, etc.). Menya Kissou seems to be a simple husband and wife operation, with the wife handling all the orders, cash register and clean-up. She took our order prior to us being seated inside. After a little bit of a wait (we didn't mind), we were seated and waited for our order. My Tsukemen arrived a few minutes later:

I ordered it with their Hanjyukku Egg, Nori, and Chashu toppings. By the way, unless you are a *really* hearty eater, I would advise against ordering the Omori (Large) size. It was gigantic, easily the same portion as ~2.5 - 3 bowls of Ramen noodles!

I took some of the handmade Ramen Noodles, dipped it into the fragrant, soul-warming Broth, and took a bite:

WOW. The Ramen noodles were definitely something handmade, having a *gorgeous* texture to them, firm yet supple, having body, yet also tender in many ways. It's sort of indescribable.

The Broth was an interesting, unique broth that paired nicely with the noodles and other toppings. Rich and complex, full of depth. And then the toppings...

Menya Kissou's homemade Pork Chashu is nothing short of ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! The slices of Pork were SO tender, SO succulent, SO flavorful, and SO fresh! Seriously, it tasted like they just finished stewing/cooking it just before serving it in my bowl. I suppose that's the high quality standard you get for only opening 3.5 hours per day. The Pork Chashu was better than all the Chinese-style Ti Pahng (Stewed "Pork Pump") I've had, and that's a fancier dish focused on tender, flavorful meat. Truly amazing.

And then I bit into the Hanjyukku Egg. Prior to this, I had a pretty good Hanjyukku ("flash-boiled"(?)) Egg, which is supposed to be cooked on the outside (like a hard-boiled egg), but have a soft, creamy yolk. But the Hanjyukku Tamago at Menya Kissou was seriously like NECTAR FROM THE GODS. The Egg was perfectly cooked, and the center yolk was like a Savory Nectar of Pure Goodness! I know no other way to describe it except that I've NEVER tasted an egg like this before! It didn't even taste like a soft-boiled chicken egg yolk (I've had plenty of those before), and nothing like Kabuki-cho's Ajisen Hanjyukku Tamago, either. It was mild, yet creamy and delicious! Simply mind-blowing.

Overall, it's easy to see why Menya Kissou has earned the #1 Ranking for Top Ramen Shop in all of Japan on Ramen Database, as well as Tabelog. From the gorgeous, amazing texture of their handmade noodles; the complex, flavorful broth; the super-tender, fresh Pork Chashu that blows away almost every other type of Pork I've ever had; and the Creamy Elixir that is their Hanjyukku Egg, this tiny bowl of Tsukemen equaled (if not surpassed) my meals earlier in the week at the Michelin 3 Star Sushi Mizutani and Michelin 2 Star Ryugin (in a different way). It was truly "Magic in a Bowl." (^_^) Menya Kissou served up the Best Ramen I've ever had in my life. Highly recommended!

*** Rating: 9.9 (out of a Perfect 10.0) ***

Menya Kissou
(Koto, Tokyo, Japan)
麺屋 吉左右(めんや きっそう)
江東区東陽1-11-3
Tel: 03-3699-5929

(According to Tabelog, they are closed on Sundays, and the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.)

 
 
 
 
  1. e
    exilekiss Apr 13, 2008 06:40 PM

    More pics attached. :)

     
     
     
    2 Replies
    1. re: exilekiss
      l
      Lucil Apr 14, 2008 02:37 AM

      exilekiss, do u speak very good japanese??

      1. re: Lucil
        e
        exilekiss Apr 14, 2008 08:59 AM

        Hi Lucil,

        Hm... I'd say I'm decent (maybe ~65-75% up to full native speaking, reading and writing). Good enough to get by and be complimented for sounding like a native during my trip. :)

    2. m
      maetel999 Apr 13, 2008 07:01 PM

      exilekiss,
      that ramen looks amazing. I really miss ramen. Just wanted to say how welcome these posts of yours are. I'll be back in Tokyo for school in 3 weeks and just looking at your pictures from your food blog is enough to drive me insane right now. I'll definitely have to try this place out when I get back.
      Keep up the good work!

      1 Reply
      1. re: maetel999
        e
        exilekiss Apr 14, 2008 09:01 AM

        Thanks maetel999,

        I just want to give back to all the great Chowhounders on the Japan board. It's all because of all of you that've helped make my Japan Trip so successful and fun a few weeks back. (^_~)

        And I envy you, getting to stay in Tokyo for school! Lucky! Be sure to keep me posted with any cool finds you may stumble across. :)

      2. Silverjay Apr 14, 2008 06:55 AM

        Nice report and pics. Reminds me a bit of Rokurinsha in Osaki- i.e. tsukemen with pork/fish broth. It's worth noting that Kissou is a few blocks from Kiba Station on the Tozai Line, which isn't all that inconvenient a location- particularly if you're visiting the palace grounds and don't want to hunt around Otemachi/ Marunouchi for lunch options.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay
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          exilekiss Apr 14, 2008 09:05 AM

          Thanks Silverjay.

          Couldn't have found this True Gem without your post! :) Yah, I tried Rokurinsha (thanks to you also :) the next day... review forthcoming.

          And thanks for pointing out... I had no idea that Menya Kissou is close by the Japanese Emperor's Palace (BTW, I heard that you can't visit it but twice a year, right?).

          But after that awesome Ramen meal, I would honestly take a Train Ride out to Menya Kissou every week if I lived in Japan, it's not that bad at all, and well worth it. :)

          1. re: exilekiss
            f
            foreignmuck May 21, 2008 10:24 AM

            Im landing in Narita on Friday morning. I'm going to head straight here off the plane, with luggage in tow for my first meal in Tokyo.. :)

            1. re: foreignmuck
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              exilekiss May 21, 2008 11:42 PM

              Very nice foreignmuck! (^_^) Let us know how it goes.

              1. re: exilekiss
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                foreignmuck May 24, 2008 02:40 AM

                Right, so i headed down here yesterday straight of a 12 hour flight from London. found the place fairly easily, and was suprised (but not surprised) by the length of the queue at 12.15pm. Anticipation was building as i waited for over an hour in the baking sun, with jetlag kicking in (it was about 5am uk time by the time i got in the place!).
                As i neared the front of the queue, orders were being taken, and I went for the works - chashu (pork) tsukemen with ajitama (the flavoured egg)..

                Dispite being a life long ramen fan,l this was my first time to try Tsukemen and also my first visit to one of the 'premier division' ramen-yas.

                Overall, I enjoyed the meal. I can't say i thought it was amazing but that was down to personal taste...

                the soup: this was a bit too fishy for my liking. It was more remenissant of an udon or soba soup than ramen.. I can see why Japanese people really dig this style of soup, but personally, i prefer a straight up tonkotsu or a good shio ramen.

                The noodles: these were great. just the kind of texture I love - chewy and satisfying. They really reminded me of zaru-udon I used to have at a soba shop I used to frequent in Nishinomiya as a kid. (side note: I was wondering why there is not much discussion about udon and soba on these boards)

                The egg v- was very nice. not usually a fan of egg in ramen for some reason (im funny with cold hard boiled eggs) but the gooeyness of this egg was good.

                The Chashu- 3 slices came on the side. Now the problem i had with it was fact that it was very cold, straight out of the fridge. I would have prefered the pork not so cold.

                Overall i must say although i enjoyed the complex soup and texture of the noodles, I think I prefer standard ramen over tsukemen. the lukewarmness of the food is just not quite as satisfying as a hot bowl of soup, even in the summer.

                Looking forward to trying some other joints soon. If anyone knows of any good ramen places in Saporro, please suggest!

                1. re: foreignmuck
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                  exilekiss May 24, 2008 07:40 AM

                  Hey foreignmuck,

                  Thanks for the report back; you're definitely hard-core (straight from a plane to the ramen-ya :).

                  Sorry to hear about your mixed feelings. The fresh Chashu I had was not cold at all (it was room temperature) and so tender and fresh. Did you enjoy the taste of the Chashu at least? That's one aspect I felt that was truly great (along w/ the amazing quality of their Ramen Noodles, and the Hanjyukku Egg :).

                  And as you say, if this was your first attempt at Tsukemen, definitely give it a few tries (at various places) to see if you get used to it. It was the first time for Tsukemen for my friend and they had to get used to the mental disconnect / difference with dipping the hot Ramen noodles into the Broth before eating. Once they got used to eating Tsukemen on this trip, the general experience was much better.

                  Enjoy the rest of your Japan Trip! :)

        2. a
          auberginegal Mar 14, 2010 10:25 PM

          i'll be in Tokyo later this month for the first time and really want to try Menya Kissou. can anyone confirm if they are indeed only closed the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month or if they are closed ALL Wednesdays? (i hope it's not all Weds!) thanks.

          5 Replies
          1. re: auberginegal
            z
            zaijin Mar 15, 2010 09:01 AM

            According to tabelog, Kissou is closed on Sundays and (all) Wednesdays.

            1. re: auberginegal
              Notorious P.I.G. Mar 15, 2010 07:48 PM

              Also, important to note that they're open 3.5 hours or until out of food.

              1. re: auberginegal
                s
                Scharn Mar 17, 2010 04:56 AM

                Also, important is to note that if you don't go there at around 11 (at the latest) you will wait forever.

                1. re: Scharn
                  skylineR33 Mar 17, 2010 06:22 AM

                  I was there one time at 11:15 am before they open and the wait is 45 mins on a weekday. It is funny that it is mostly man line up at Menya Kissou and it is all woman (OL) line up at the cafe beside it !

                  1. re: skylineR33
                    t
                    theperfectcookie Mar 27, 2010 02:19 AM

                    Flying to Tokyo in July, and I simply can't wait to taste the deliciousness you described. Mouthwatering review exilekiss, thanks! Menya Kissou, I'll definitely be seeing YOU in 3 months! :)

              2. s
                Scharn Mar 28, 2010 02:53 AM

                can anybody comment on how it compares to tomita?

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