5 of the Best Ramen Shops in Tokyo
Ramen is on the rise.
If you haven't already, soon you are likely to see a ramen restaurant coming to a neighborhood near you. This is great news because good quality ramen delivers a very tasty, quick, and satisfying meal to you at a reasonable price.
For those who still think of ramen as the cheap stuff from a package, it's time to discover the real thing.
The real stuff is made from scratch and involves intensive labor from chefs who specialize in just this one dish. Good broth takes hours and sometimes days to make. House-made noodles, though harder to find, are as good as anything I've tasted from Italy. And the toppings should be from quality sources and prepared perfectly.
On my last trip to Tokyo I ate so much ramen, a friend at home watching my Instagram feed said he thought I was going to "turn into a noodle." If I were covered in delicious broth, topped with a soft boiled egg, and swaddled in pork, I dare say there could be worse fates.
These are five of the best ramen shops in Tokyo. They range from old-school traditional spots, to new school innovators, to super spicy ramen, and cold ramen for hot Tokyo summers.
1. Afuri Ramen
Known for their unique citrus-y yuzu flavored broth and charbroiled pork chasu, Afuzi is one of the best and most famous bowls of ramen in Tokyo! They have multiple locations around Tokyo, (as well as a branch in Portland, Oregon) but this one in Ebisu is the first location and reportedly the best.
2. Rokurinsha Ramen.
Famous for their Tsukemen style ramen, they are located in the enormous Tokyo Station along the "Ramen Street." They pretty much always have a line, but take heart, it moves quickly!
Tsukemen ramen was a new, but tasty, experience for me! Popular in the warm summer months the noodles are served cold in their own big bowl. In a small bowl next to it you are given the warm, thick broth for dipping. The noodles have a very toothsome springiness to them and the broth is rich and gravy-like.
Grab a few noodles with your chopsticks and daintily lower them in the broth, ideally coating them, but not entirely smothering them. This dipping method takes a bit of practice, but the delicious flavor gives you ample motivation.
As always in these situations, sneak a peek at the example of locals sitting around you and follow their lead--you'll soon be slurping your way to Tsukemen bliss.
In Tokyo the quantity of restaurants boggles the mind while the basic standard is quite high. So sometimes I put my research aside and just follow my nose and often it pays off. Oreryu Ramen in Tokyo is just another ramen shop, but this same place here in the USA would be ramen phenomenon.
I still think about the bowl I ordered; a garlic based broth comprised of a rowdy mix of savory flavors, complemented by a slightly sweet and nutty dollop of what I think was a sesame paste dropped in the middle. When stirred, the sesame melted its way into the whole broth adding a wonderful rich undertone.
I can't claim this is Tokyo's most famous place or anything, but I'd go back in a heartbeat.
As a self-proclaimed spicy food freak, this restaurant ranks among my all time favorites. I've been known to eat here multiple times on a single trip, and with the amount of other great options to try in Tokyo, that alone should tell you something. Check out my other post for a more indepth rundown of Kikanbo.
5. Secret Dry Ramen Spot.
I've saved the best for last. This "dry" ramen restaurant is another of my all-time favorite meals anywhere in the world. Yes, it's that good. So good in fact that after I took my girlfriend here for the first time and she declared it a "revelation." The next day the first thing she wanted to know was if we could go back again before we left.
Not only is it delicious, it's also a very unique style that I have been unable to locate anywhere else outside Japan. The "dry" ramen means it's just noodles, no broth. Shocking I know! Instead of a broth you add your own vinegar and rice oil, a process I'll have to detail later in a full post.
**Special note to reader: There are some places that are just so good that you want to keep them to yourself. Actually, it’s not that I don’t want to share (in fact I love sharing and helping others experience something I love!), it’s that I love this place so much I don’t want to ruin it.
I’ve been there five times now and have never seen another tourist (or at least no other white person). I know the chances are slim that so many people from my little ol’ blog will find it that it will become overrun by tourists, but hey, in the weird world of the internet, I guess you never know.
So if you find yourself in Tokyo and want to check this place out, shoot me a quick message via the contact section below and I’ll happily drop you the google maps location. Until then, a photo will have to do.