Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen at Manseibashi

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen

Mugi to Olive has been on my ramen radar for a while. The chef behind the restaurant is trained in French cuisine. Ramen bloggers and Japanese media, both print and television, rave about the clam soup ramen. But it jumped to the top of my list after seeing it mentioned in this great piece in the New York Times by Ingrid Williams:

The hamaguri (common Orient clams) are from Kuwana in Mie prefecture. A region famous for its hamaguri. The Daisen chicken is from Tottori prefecture. The base to this bowl of ramen starts with excellent ingredients. The thin, straight noodles are made from domestic flour and are al dente. The toppings include a generous portion of refreshing mitsuba (trefoil) greens, and Daisen chicken. The yamaimo (mountain potato) and naruto (fish cake) is deep-fried in olive oil. On top of that, a half-dozen hamaguri clams. The tare is made from soy sauce and chicken fat. On the table is a jar of shallot oil which added even more umami to the bowl.

The article mentions the branch in Ginza but we went to the Manseibashi store. When we left the shop was mostly women. The Manseibashi area is fun to visit as there are some great shops. Manseibashi is an old station in Tokyo that is no longer being used. The shops are under the tracks of the Chuo line.

The bowl is full of umami and has a rich flavor of clams. It is obviously made by a trained chef using good ingredients. It also has a Bib Gourmand recommendation from the Michelin Guide.

Mugi to Olive

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda-Sudacho 1-25-4, Maach ecute Kanda Manseibashi S10


Ginza Kagari Ramen 銀座篝中華そば

Kagari Echika Ramen

Kagari Echika Ramen

My favorite ramen at the moment is Kagari in Ginza. The shop does a tori paitan, creamy chicken ramen. This is perfect for those of you who don’t eat pork. :-) I come here mostly for the thick, rich soup made with lots of chicken fat. The noodles are thin, which I prefer.

Recently Kagari has opened a second shop in the Ginza subway station in an area called Echika. It is close to the Marunouchi entrance to the Ginza station. The hours for this shop is 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. However, the staff said that best to come by 10 p.m. or you will be turned away.

The Echika branch has only 8 seats at a long, straight blonde counter. This shop only serves the tori paitan, either a bowl of hot noodles with the soup, or as tsuke-men, where the noodles and soup are served in two different bowls. For optional toppings I included Kyoto bamboo shoots, aji tama seasoned egg, and garlic butter. The garlic butter in this shop was (I think) garlic powder mixed into butter.

I also had a lovely bowl of seasonal vegetables as a side dish. Over a dozen types of seasonal vegetables, some raw some steamed, simple presented together in a bowl. It takes away a bit of the guilt of the hearty ramen when balanced with some vegetables. The vegetables could have been used as a garnish to the ramen, but it was a treat to try each vegetable and enjoy them for their own flavors.

I came for an early lunch and was seated right away. In front of the shop is a waiting area. I would prefer to wait here in the hot summer as it is underground and not nearly as hot as waiting at the main shop.

Kagari Honten Main Shop

Kagari Honten Main Shop

The main shop, honten, in Ginza is very popular. There is usually a long line at this shop. The sign outside of the store says “SOBA”, as the restaurant refers to their ramen as chūka soba, or Chinese noodles. One day while standing in line here a couple thought it was a soba shop and only once they were handed a menu did they realize that it was ramen. The poor woman said she was allergic to gluten but was advised that the ramen of course was made with gluten. They had stood in line so long that they came in anyways and all she could eat with rice with different toppings usually put over the ramen.

The main shop also has only eight seats. The seasoned egg here was cut in half before being placed in the bowl, which makes more sense than serving it whole as they did in the Echika branch. Also, here the garlic is fried before it is added to the butter.

The main shop also serves a niboshi shoyu, dried sardines and soy sauce, ramen. But come here for the tori paitan chicken ramen as this is their specialty.

If you go to the main shop and the line is super long, I suggest heading over to the Echika branch. Also, the Echika branch is open without closing between lunch and dinner but the main shop does close for a few hours.

Kagari Honten (Main Shop)

Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-4-1, Ginza A Building 1F    中央区銀座4-4-1銀座Aビル1F

Kagari Echika

Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-1-2, Echika Fit     中央区銀座4-1-2, Echika Fit

Oyster Ramen at Tsukiji Yajima 築地やじ満

Tsukiji Yajima oyster ramen

Tsukiji Yajima oyster ramen

Tsukiji Market breakfast options abound and oyster ramen (1,200 JPY) is one can only be had this time of year. Creamy oysters are a unique topping for ramen and are served with nira (garlic chives), onions, bamboo shoots, and fresh wood-ear mushrooms. The noodles are straight and thin, a nice contrast to the large oysters. It’s a large bowl and very filling so come hungry, and come while oysters are in season.

Most of the diners at Yajima are fishmongers from the inner market. Many of them were ordering fried rice or shio (salt) ramen and a half order of shumai (steamed pork dumplings). They are in and out quickly and pay when they order. It was the tourists (myself included) who ordered the oyster ramen (kaki ra-men) and paid after eating.

Tsukiji Yajima exterior

Tsukiji Yajima exterior

Plenty of other restaurants serving fried oysters at Tsukiji Market including:

Yajima やじ満

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1 Bldg. 8

Vegetarian Ramen in Tokyo Station – T’s Tan Tan Restaurant

ramen - vegetarian T's at Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station Vegetarian Ramen at T’s Tan Tan Restaurant

I have a new friend in town who is a vegetarian. A while back when we got together for lunch I told her I would love to find a spot that we could have for lunch near her office. It was so frustrating to find someplace that was 100% vegetarian. While Japan has a rich variety of vegetables, many times it is cooked in a dashi broth which is usually made with kombu (kelp, a type of sea vegetable) and katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes). I spent a long time searching and finally told her I couldn’t find anything that looked appetizing. There were a few places, but the cuisine just didn’t look appealing.

Now I understand the frustrations that vegetarians go through when visiting Tokyo.

Which is why I was so excited to happen upon a vegetarian restaurant inside of Tokyo Station that serves ramen along with many other dishes. The sign outside said no meat, no fish, no egg, no milk. But the photos of the ramen looked appealing. I sat down and confirmed with my waitress and she said it is 100% vegetarian. I ordered T’s tantan men, which seems to be a signature dish.

The noodles were skinny and straight, as I like them. The broth was rich in miso but also full of umami. I added some of the condiment of red chili peppers and sesame seeds, although the broth on its own was a bit spicy.

ramen - vegetarian T's interior

T’s Tan Tan Restaurant in Tokyo Station

The location is inside of Tokyo Station on the first floor in a section called Keio Street. It opens at 7 a.m., which is when I went. After opening the shop the store filled up with a half-dozen diners. I will be back to try the vegetable curry which also looks good, but is not served at breakfast. The shop is brightly lit and the menu is filled with photos of the dishes, so ordering is easy for non-Japanese speakers.

T’s Restaurant

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Keio Street 1st floor (inside Tokyo Station closest to the Yaesu Minami South Exit)


The main shop is in Jiyugaoka at Meguyo-ku, Jiyugaoka 2-9-6, Luz Jiyugaoka B1

〒152-0035東京都目黒区自由が丘2-9-6Luz自由が丘 B1F

Tokyo Ramen Street’s Rokurinsha Tsukemen 六厘舎

Tokyo Ramen Street

Tokyo Ramen Street – Rokurinsha Tsukemen

Rokurinsha’s tonkotsu tsukemen is one of the city’s most sought after bowl of ramen. Tsukemen is an interesting way to eat ramen if you are not used to dipping noodles in a broth. In Japan we often eat soba, udon or sōmen with a smokey soy dipping sauce, so the concept is not too wild. Unlike the traditional bowl of ramen where the noodles and savory broth are together, here they are separate. Grab a few noodles with your chopsticks, dip in the broth, and slurp away. There is a spoon if you want more of the broth.

Tokyo Ramen Street in the basement of Tokyo Station has eight ramen shops all lined up next to each other. Note that the basement shopping area of Tokyo Station is massive. Be sure to head to the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station. There is a map in English if you click below on Tokyo Ramen Street in the address section. I recommend it as a place to go to for ramen as you do have the option of checking out what the other shops offer and the location can not be beat. Most travelers in Tokyo will pass through Tokyo Station at some point. However, most people who come here want to join the line of customers waiting for a seat at Rokurinsha, which is by far the most popular ramen shop. The line is usually filled up with salarymen in white shirts and ties. But the same could be said for many restaurants in Tokyo Station as there are many train lines going through this station and the financial district is near here.

Most likely you will want to order the ajitama-tsukemen for 950 JPY, which includes all of the basics as shown above, including the seasoned egg (ajitama). The umami-rich broth is tonkotsu, based on pork bones, and this is a meaty, in-your-face soup. As you can see, the toppings include a soy-marinated hard-boiled egg, a thin sliced of pink and white naruto fish cake, toasted nori, julienned leeks, and some pork pork belly. There were extra packets of powdered katsuobushi, smoked skipjack tuna, but the dish had enough flavor it did not need any more help. For some it may be too complex, the meaty broth and the smokey fish powder. The thick, straight noodles seem perfect for this dense broth. What some may not care for is the cold noodles being dipped into the hot broth. The temperature of the broth drops quickly and the fatty soup is not as enticing as when it is hot. Regardless, it is very popular and it’s rare that there is not a line to get in here, even first thing in the morning when it opens at 7:30 a.m.

Rokurinsha at Tokyo Ramen Street

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Eki Ichibangai B1

While here,  be sure to pick up the regional flavored Kit Kats at the shop across the aisle. Details in this Metropolis article.

Ramen-ya 69’N’ROLL ONE Akasaka – Rock’N’Roll One Ramen CLOSED


So sorry, but a kind reader of the blog has just informed me that this shop is now closed. I will update this post when I hear of news of a new shop opening in central Tokyo.


Rock’N’Roll ramen is spelled out with numbers 69, or “roku” in Japanese. So, in Japanese we call this ramen shop Roku N Roll, said quickly it sounds like “rock and roll”. Chef Junichi Shimazaki’s original shop is in Machida and has been voted the best ramen in Tokyo for a few years. Machida’s a long haul from central Tokyo so I was thrilled when he opened up a shop in Akasaka in June, 2013.

What makes his ramen so special? Many facets. The flour used for making his noodles is all domestic. The broth is made from chickens from Akita prefecture. And the pork on top of the ramen is none other than Iberico pork. Some call this kodawari, an obsession to perfecting each component. It’s a great bowl of ramen. The broth, while a rich chicken flavor, is well-balanced and not too heavy. The pork was amazing. The noodles were cooked just right. The only thing I would change is that I wished that the egg was cut in half as it was hard to eat. He’s famous for his shōyu (soy sauce) ramen. Next time I’ll try the shio (salt).


Shimazaki-san’s coiffure and dress is very 50’s, think the Fonzie, but with longer hair. Seeing his style, it makes sense why he calls his restaurant Ramen-ya Rock and Roll. It was great fun to see him in the kitchen making ramen. He’s very popular and is often seen on television and in magazines.

The shop this day was filled with mostly area businessmen and young students. I went right as they had opened up and got a seat right away. But when I left there was a line.


The gyoza on the menu looked great, but not available until later in the day.rock4

Ramen-ya 69’N’Roll  Rock’N’Roll

Minato-ku, Akasaka 3-7-11


Harajuku Afuri


“Regular or extra fat?” asked the guy behind the counter when I handed over my ticket from the vending machine for Afuri’s yuzu shio (yuzu and salt) ramen. No brainer. Extra fat (ōi instead of futsū for regular). A few minutes later I could smell the yuzu as he placed the bowl in front of me. You can see the yuzu peel on the egg.

The yuzu shio is perfect on these chilly autumn days. It’s light and refreshing. The chashū is seared which adds a nice toasty note to the ramen. The egg is soft and full of flavor in the yolk. I love thin noodles and these are very thin. The mizuna is a refreshing, crunchy touch. One of my favorite bowls in the city.

As for the extra fat, it was a rich bowl of ramen, but not too fat. A well-balanced bowl with a round feel of chicken schmaltz. The broth is chicken-based.


All of the seats overlook the open kitchen. J-Pop plays in the background, think Hikaru Utada, while Hayao Miyazaki’s Kurenai no Buta (Crimson Pig) plays on the TV. Today the shop is filled with a mix of young girls out shopping, area businessmen, and some students.


This shop is in Harajuku, about three minutes from the Takeshita Dori exit from the Yamanote Harajuku line. The shop front are large windows making the shop brightly lit during the day. It’s a very friendly shop and great for solo diners. The original shop is in Ebisu (Ebisu 1-1-7) and there is also a shop in Azabu-Jūban (Azabu-Jūban 1-8-10).

Afuri 阿夫利

Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 3-63-1



10:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.


Nihonbashi Sapporoya – Hiyashi Chuka Goma Dare

ImageTokyo has been unseasonably hot this week. My favorite bowl of cold ramen noodles in the whole city is a great little dive called Sapporoya.The ramen shop happens to be across the street from one of my favorite kaiseki/kappō restaurants, Nihonbashi Yukari. I love that on this narrow street you can find two contrasting meals, both exceptional, at different price ranges.

I used to work in Nihonbashi at Takashimaya department store. I came upon Sapporoya  by chance one night when looking for a quick bite to eat with a girlfriend. It was summer and the cold ramen dish was tempting. The first time I had it I think I picked up the large bowl and sipped up the broth. It is rich in umami and has a nutty sesame sauce that brings the whole dish together. When I went to work the next day at Takashimaya and shared my story with Yamada-san (older man who is a gourmet and introduced me to many great spots), he knew immediately of it. I was advised by Yamada-san that the hot bowls of ramen are also very good here. But, I am addicted to the cold ramen with sesame dressing.

I stopped by this week and was so touched that the owners had remembered me. I haven’t been back in five years, but as soon as I came into the shop I was warmly welcomed. It’s a small restaurant and most of the diners are area businessmen, so I guess as a half-Japanese woman I stick out a bit. Regardless, I was happy to be back. I am very sentimental so their kindness in welcoming back  to the shop almost brought tears to my eyes.

The dish is still as I remember. Presented in a large bowl, rich with toppings, and still with lip-smacking sauce. I no longer pick up the bowl at the end, but the thought did cross my mind. When you come into the store you place your order with the cashier. For this dish, be sure to ask for the hiyashi chuka goma dare. I don’t care for Japanese mustard so I also request karashi nuki.

Sapporoya is just minutes from Tokyo Station on the Yaesu side.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya 札幌や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-3-5, B1

中央区日本橋3-3-5, B1

Monday – Friday 11:00~14:30 17:00~21:00

Saturday 11:00~14:30

closed Sunday and holidays

Kokubunji Menya Rikyu 国分寺 麺屋利休


Menya Rikyū is a ramen shop in our neighborhood. It has been on television as a recommended ramen shop. There is sometimes a line, but not always. A few friends in the area also recommended it. The ramen is very good here. While it’s known for its tsuke-men we tried the shio (salt) ramen. The noodles are straight, chewy, and thick.

The ingredients for making the stock are shown on their website. What I do love is that he garnishes the ramen with buckwheat tea (soba-cha). You do get a nutty flavor and the crunchy texture of the buckwheat. If you scroll down you can see an interesting ingredient, green tea oil.


The entrance to Menya Rikyū. Menya means noodle shop and Rikyu comes from the famous tea ceremony master, Rikyū. Hence, the connection to the green tea oil that it poured over the ramen. I couldn’t taste the tea as the broth is quite rich. The interior of the ramen shop is said to be designed after a tea room, but that too gets lost in translation.


The shop’s name at the entrance. You’ll see a drawing of Rikyū at the counter.


In a residential building off of the main street in Kokubunji. It’s about a five minute walk from the north exit of Kokubunji station. Worth visiting if you are in the area.

Menya Rikyū

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-22-2

closed Thursday

2013 Best Shio Salt Ramen in Tokyo

Tokyo ramen restaurants are constantly being ranked. Following is a list from a recent survey of the area’s most popular shio (salt) ramen restaurants. I’ve included a link either to the restaurant’s site or to the Tabelog site so you can see photos of the ramen.

1. はじめ Hajime: Kita-ku, Jujo 2-30-9 (opened February, 2012)

2. 金時 Kintoki: Nerima-ku, Kotakecho 1-2-7 (opened March, 2012)

3. 灯花 Tōka: Shinjuku-ku, Arakicho 8 (opened June, 2012)

4. おかげさま Okagesama: Shibuya-ku, Sasazuka 1-62-8 (opened August, 2012)

5. 美志満 Mishima: Nerima-ku, Sakuradai 1-2-9 (opened May, 2012)