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Jan 22, 2010 09:58 PM

Where to find the spiciest noodles in Tokyo?

Hi everybody,

I've been lurking for awhile and have a pressing question. I want to find a giant bowl of noodles in Tokyo that's so spicy that my lips burn, my face turns red, and I beg for mercy as tears stream down my face. I'm thinking something similar to the bowls of laksa in the food courts in Sydney, or like a really spicy tom yung kung would do. Or ramen I suppose. I've been living in Tokyo for 3 years now and just can't get anything spicy enough. I ask them to kick it up, but usually they sort of throw more of the bland chilis in there, which sort of makes it spicier but not like.. tasty spicy. Am not too keen on Japanese curry although I know that can be done pretty spicy. One time I had a soup that was nicely spiced (still not hot enough though) at a Thai restaurant in a basement in Kabukicho, but I was kinda tanked (as one often is in Kabukicho) and haven't been able to figure out where I was.

Any ideas? Much appreciated!

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  1. Mouku Tan Men Nakamoto is generally held to serve the spiciest or one of the spiciest ramens in the city, I went once but couldn't finish it. Several branches.

    In the ramen/ramen-like area, toshomen places and tan-tan men places are where you want to look.

    11 Replies
    1. re: kamiosaki

      Two of the spiciest things I've had in Japan:
      1 - The hot salsa at Frijoles in Azabu-juban
      2 - Okinawan koregusu - it's hot peppers floating in awamori -- I think the alcohol makes it feel hotter

      Maybe you should carry some of that in your pocket! They do sell Frank's Red Hot [Extra Hot] variety at some foreign grocery stores. It's not that hot really, but quite yummy.

      1. re: lost squirrel

        That salsa at Frijoles wasn't even a challenge for me!! I think I'm doomed. But I'm definitely interested in koregusu, I've never heard of it before. Awamori packs its own punch!

        I like Frank's Red Hot! I found Blair's Sudden Death sauce (along with the regular Death Sauce, which is tastier but not overly spicy) at the Ginza Don Quixote so maybe I should start carrying that around!

        1. re: hello_liza

          I agree, it wasn't challenging but it was in my top 5 spiciest moments in Japan.
          Actually, the first time I went it was completely mild but the second time it seemed much hotter. I wonder if the second guy was a bit heavy-handed...

        2. re: lost squirrel

          How is that Frijoles place? Or a more fitting question is, what is that Frijoles place? I walked by it when it was closed, and there was no sense of what it was.

          1. re: Uncle Yabai

            Burritos. Pretty good too. Sort of like Qdoba or Baja Fresh in the US (east coast).

            1. re: Uncle Yabai

              It's a direct copy/rip-off of Chipotle in the US. They even have the same decorations on the bags of chips, same old website, etc..

              Burritos, tacos and guacamole along with a small beer selection. If you want try, let me know.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                I live in Azabu so I swing by maybe 2 times a month. It's good for Mexican in Japan (I've looked around for authentic Mexican in Tokyo and it's been depressing) except the tacos come in flour tortillas (not corn.) Flour tortillas for burritos I can accept. For tacos though, I'd prefer corn. I've tried all 3- steak, chicken and the carnitas and I like the carnitas the best although I'm partial to pork in the first place.

                1. re: gkanai

                  Well, that stuff ain't authentic Mexican either. The only decent Mexican I can think of is La Fonda de la Madrugada in Harajuku. La Colina in Midtown tries really hard but it just way overshoots, too precious (and expensive) by half.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    I'd say Frijoles is striving to be authentic Tex-Mex rather than authentic Mexican, and they seem to do well enough for me, although I'm no expert (growing up with a burrito-deprived existence in New York).

                    I've had decent regional Mexican dishes from the specials blackboard at Junkadelic, and some good food at Salsita and El Quixico. I won't go to La Fonda or their sister shop La Colina.

                2. re: Uncle Yabai

                  I like Frijoles well enough; good for what it is and cheap too (by Tokyo standards): about 1,000 yen for a massive burrito. Well worth checking out. However I'm pretty sure they use Japanese rice in the burritos which ruins the taste a bit for me.
                  I've become discouraged in my hunt for good Mexican in Tokyo so I order stuff from Costco and freeze it so I always have tortillas and beans on hand. Can't find anywhere to buy proper chilis though so the quest continues... maybe this should be another thread?

                  1. re: hello_liza

                    If they did use Japanese rice, that would be a disappointment. I just had a Frijoles burrito for lunch today. With the rice. I didn't think it was hakumai but I could be mistaken. I'll try to find out next time.

                    They def. do not have corn tortillas however. That's a minus for the tacos at least.

            2. I have been living in Dublin last 2 years (after migrating from Oz where my Chinese/Malaysian mum burnt our tastebuds off) and I'm totally craving something spicy too!

              Leaving for Tokyo in 7 hrs - the two recs I got were
              - Mouku Tan Men Nakamoto
              - Magic Spice -

              I am heading to both as soon as I're welcome to come along!

              5 Replies
              1. re: onegirlarmy

                I saw something on TV this weekend called Pora Ramen (sp?) in Toyocho maybe. It looked incredibly spicy, I was shocked at the amount of red pepper/chile that went into each bowl. I looked online, but couldn't find anything about it. Maybe someone with better Japanese searching skills will do a better job.

                1. re: lost squirrel

                  I'm going to go with 'Magokoro Chu-bou' (written as a circle for maru and then kokoro, heart), in Toyocho (closer to Kiba).
                  They have a ridiculous-looking chili tsukemen (despite not souding at all like 'Pora'). Picture here:

                  Coincidentally, only a block from Menya Kissou. Make a day of it.

                  1. re: jem589

                    That looks like the place. I was a bit tipsy when it came on, and I asked my companion "what was the name of that place?"
                    She wasn't sober either. Glad somebody found it, thanks Jem

                2. re: onegirlarmy

                  Ooooh thanks for the recommendations, haven't heard of those..... am down for a trip! Have my suspicions about something being genuinely spicy in Shimo but Ikebukuro has potential!

                  1. re: hello_liza

                    I'm not super hopeful after ordering something in another restaurant today and picking the hottest chilli rating (6 stars and extra 50 yen to boot) only to have it not even cause a sniffle...

                    Am still holding out hope though, if you do head down to ikebukuro and you wouldn't mind a fellow spice buddy let me know! - email is in my profile.

                3. Recently, the Korean chain BBQ Chicken opened a branch in Akasaka-mitsuke.
                  I went to a different branch a long long time ago when they first came to Japan and I remembered their spicy chicken as being quite spicy.
                  It's not noodles, but I think it'll provide some burn.

                  They deliver as well :-)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lost squirrel

                    I went to the Akasaka location last week, the spicy chicken really is HOT. It didn't have much flavor, just heat. Still, if you are dying for burn - then this could help.

                  2. Made it to Mouko Tanmen today - accidentally ordered the largest size because I didn't know what I was doing!

                    The good news is it is very spicy....not quite enough to make me cry, but there were definitely a lot of people sweating it out. Definitely a good enough burn...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: onegirlarmy

                      I don't know how hot, but this just showed up on my brother's Google buzz.


                      Looks spicy and good.

                      1. re: lost squirrel

                        That's actually the same place. The full name is Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto. You have permission to be confused.

                    2. Hey, I had some really spicy noodles this week (by Japan standards). Kikanbou in Kanda starts with a spicy soup and then lets you choose how much red pepper and sansho to add (sansho being the thing in Chinese food like mabo tofu that makes your tongue numb). I got the 'lots' level of each and found it scary on the first bite, but perfect once I settled down. There's also a 'demon spicy' level that might suit you better.
                      Additionally, it's a really good ramen place - noodles, pork and eggs are all top-notch.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jem589

                        Jigoku Ramen in Ebisu. BY far the hottest noodles in town

                        1. re: kugasho

                          I haven't walked down that street (around the corner from the tabehodai Thai place) in a while, but if memory serves that place is long gone.... yes it was pretty spicy though.

                          1. re: kamiosaki

                            Forgot to mention Chomoranma:


                            Dan dan men, dan dan tsukemen, shiru nashi dan dan men, mapo tofu etc. with sansho. Spicy but with real flavor on top too.