SPICY NOODLES IN TOKYO!
Tokyo. The motherland of ramen! You don’t know what ramen is? Look it up.
When you’re in Japan, ramen is everywhere. The general standard is good, but why settle for good when you can have the best. If you’re anything like me, you understand that noodles are life.
Where do you start your ramen adventure? Let me point in you in the direction of some of the best (or at least, some of my favourite) bowls to slurp.
Spicy miso ramen with a punch! Mixing two different spices (kara – classic “heat” hot, and “shibi” – a Sichuan peppercorn, which creates a numbing/tingling sensation in your mouth) this bowl is intense. Don’t worry, they cater to everyone’s taste, by letting you choose the spice level. For first timers, and non-lovers of spice, I recommend going “less-less”. For the more adventures, ask the guy taking your order for “futsu-futsu” (which means normal).
Everything about this ramen is amazing. However, the pork is NEXT LEVEL! and literally melts in your mouth. The deluxe bowl is pictured below.
Don’t leave Tokyo without eating at Kikanbo. They have two branches, one in Kanda and one in Ikebukuro. The branch is Kanda also serve tsukemen (dipping noodles).
In 2017, Nakiryu in Otsuka became the second shop in Tokyo to receive a Michelin star (after Tsuta in Meguro). This might be one of the cheapest Michellin meals around. Nakiryu offer a few different types of ramen. Brian from ramen-adventures thinks they got their star for their Shoyu (soy-sauce based) and Shio (salt based) bowls.
However, they also have something completely different, tantanmen. Tantanmen originates from China – like a Japanese version of the popular spicy Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles. Wherever tantanmen originated, Nakiryu knock their version of it out of the park! One mouthful of their homemade noodles, swimming in their spicy/creamy broth, and you’ll know exactly what all the fuss is about.
Bowl below has some optional toppings: perfect soft boiled egg and pork chashu.
Disclaimer: all good things in life are worth waiting for, and you’ll certainly have to wait for these noodles. The Michelin star has brought ramen-heads from everywhere to this shop, and the hype is still very much real. We arrived around 10:45 (45 minutes before open) and there was 10-15 people in front of us. 2.5 hours later and we had finished our bowls (allow approximately 15 mins of eating time).
Would I do it again? Yes – that’s how good this bowl is. Only one stop on the Yamanote line away from Kikanbo in Ikebukuro, why not do a ramel-crawl??
Okay now I’m going to share a ramen secret with you. This shop isn’t visited by many foreigners – you’ll likely be the only tourists in here. It’s about 40 mins out of main Tokyo, but well worth the travel time. Yamaguchi offers (among other things) a soupless mabomazemen style of noodles. Thick homemade noodles covered in a spicy gravy-like coating. The kick is strong, but manageable. Perfectly springy and chewy, these noodles are not to be missed.
If you’re not a fan of spice, go for their shio bowl. Thinner noodles in a light and delicate broth. Also very delicious, as is their pork rice side dish.
See below for mouth-watering evidence: