Ramen in Tokyo - Introduction
I'm trying to choose 3 ramen shops in Tokyo that will give us a great introduction to ramen in Japan!
I have read through almost all of the chowhound posts about ramen in Tokyo, and it's pretty clear to me that there is no such thing as "best ramen in Tokyo" - there are so many different styles, so many different personal preferences, and constantly changing trends!
So I guess I'm looking for recommendations for 3 different styles that would provide a good representation of ramen in Japan, and then recommendations for ramen shops that highlight each style...
We don't mind travelling out of the way to hard-to-find places with long line-ups. And since this would be an 'introduction', we don't care about trends :)
As always, any help greatly appreciated!
Five types to try are:
1) gyoukai tsukemen (dipping noodles in a blended broth made from dried seafood AND meat), 2) shoyu (soy sauce), 3) tonkotsu (pork bone), 4) miso, and 5) "Jiro" style (clear, garlicky, lotta pork).
My intel is not so fresh and I would suggest looking into some local blogs, but you can look into the following which are all pretty well-known:
Gyoukai tsukemen- Menya Kissou (Kiba), Menya Itou (Shin-Koiwa), Waritou (outer part of Shibuya), Fu'unji (Shinjuku), Rokurinsha (Osaki,Tokyo)
Shoyu- Takano (in Ebaranakanobu)
Tonkotsu- Nantsuttei (Shinagawa), chains like Ippudo, Ichiran, Jangara
Miso- Suzuran (Shibuya), Kururi (Kagurazaka)
Jiro- any one of the branches around town
My suggestion is to be more realistic about fitting ramen into your sightseeing plans. People say they are willing to travel and line up, but that can literally take a couple of hours of investment for a 15-minute meal when there are perfectly good options nearby.
We actually don't really have any sight-seeing plans, we were just planning to wander the neighbourhoods around the restaurants we're seeing :) But I get your point - sounds like there is an abundance of good ramen without having to go out of our way...
Always wanted to try Rokurinsha after seeing it on Mind of a Chef, and it's certainly mentioned a lot on this board...
I was also thinking that shio ramen might be a good option, since it's a clean and simple representation. I've heard Hajime mentioned a lot.
I've been to the Ippudo in NYC, not sure how similar that would be to tonkotsu in Tokyo... My wife's a fan of miso, and I'm thinking it's probably not common to find good miso ramen outside of Japan...
Maybe we should put more emphasis on planning some sight-seeing, and then seeing what ramen shops are nearby :)
Easiest would be to hit up the ramen alley in Tokyo Station. There are a variety of styles there. However, there is no way you can reasonably represent all of Japan with only 3 styles of ramen. I guess if you are adventurous you can work your way down the following lists though.
Interestingly, I just went down that Timeout list and saw Akanoren in there and thought "Wtf?" and then looked in the comments section and saw that Ramen Adventure guy thought the same thing.
I should have mentioned Ikaruga in Kudanshita. I've been there for very good, umami-bomb, tonkotsu.
Ramen Museum in Shin-Yoko is probably worth noting here as well.
It's in Kudanshita, apparently one of David Chang's favorite neighborhoods...It can be tied into a visit to Imperial Palace or Yasukuni national shrine...I posted on Rokurinsha in 2006 actually, when it was #1 on Ramen Database....Ippudo recipe in Tokyo is different, but yeah you can skip it I suppose....Yeah shio is another major category. I don't know Hajime. I usually recommend Afuri in Ebisu since it is a great neighborhood and easy to get to.
The two big trends as far as I observe- which is on the internet and then for a few weeks a year when I am there- are soupless noodles (called shirunashi or abura soba) and soups made from niboshi (煮干し) which are dried sardines. The former trend has maybe flattened out and the later seems to be still trending upwards.
Yeah, I recommend you sort of peg shops to where you plan to spend the day- at least general vicinity...Ramen museum is good. There's just not much else to do in Shin-Yokohama unless you maybe tied it into seeing a soccer game......Ramen Alley in Tokyo Station is convenient and there is a Rokurinsha there. But it is basically in an underground shopping mall.
I would also very happily recommend Abura Soba. It's satisfying after a night out on the town. The best place I can think of to have Abura soba would be around Waseda. Here is the tabelog page for you: http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1309/A130905/13004158/
It's called "Men-chin tei" and it has been one of my favorites since college. Be warned though, it can get crowded so be prepared for a short wait.
For Tsukemen, Rokurinsha for me has been a disappointment and had not been worth the wait. Personally, I prefer the tsukemen at Yasube(Takadanobaba station) :http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1305/A130503/13000057/
or Tsujita (iidabashi station or Ogawamachi station): http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1310/A131002/13020599/
Tsujita does a pretty tasty bowl of miso ramen at their "Miso no sho" location in ogawamachi.
I'm just throwing this one out there but if you want to try "Spicy Numbing Miso Ramen" be sure to check out Kikanbou at Kanda station: http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1310/A13100...
They serve an extremely fiery, numbing miso soup that hurts so good. Also a very popular place so be prepared to wait.
All the other types have seen some goods suggestions so I won't venture futher :) leaving off with a picture of abura soba. Happy Eating!
Of course you could always go to the Yokohama Ramen Museum. I'd say if you are really hungry you could probably have four different styles all in the same trip! (they serve mini-bowls). It's a fantastic place to visit anyway, and the idea of a 'living food museum' is pretty much unheard of in the USA. Worth the pilgrimage.
Just got back from Tokyo, sooo much good ramen... Some of the messages on this thread came in while I was in Tokyo, so I didn't get a chance to read them.
We ended up getting ramen at the airport when we arrived cause we were starving :) It wasn't bad for airport food.
Then we went for breakfast ramen at Rokurinsha a couple days later, on our way to Kyoto... started lining up at 7:45AM and there was already a lineup! The broth is awesome, so flavourful. We ordered large bowls by accident, and were ridiculously full afterwards... The soup got a bit cold halfway through though (maybe cause there were so much noodles in the large portion), we added some extra soup but still didn't get it to a good temperature.
Went to Ikagura a couple days later. Oh man, that was by far the best ramen we've ever had. The soup base was ridiculously good, we were blown away. And I liked the thick curly noodles (I've always had tonkotsu with thin straight noodles, which I don't like as much).
Finally, we went to the ramen museum - definitely worth the pilgrimage... tried miso at Sumire - delicious, but really rich; shoyu at Shina Soba-ya - really nice clean soup; and tonkotsu at Komurasaki - also good. Nothing blew us away, but it was great to try so many different kinds of ramen in a fun environment.
Wish I had more meals in Tokyo to try more ramen... Oh well, next time :)
Again, thanks everyone for all of the incredible advice, you guys are awesome!