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

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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).

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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.

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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

03-3583-5569

Harajuku Afuri

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“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.

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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.

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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

渋谷区千駄ヶ谷3−63−1

03-6438-1910

10:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.

 

Nihonbashi Sapporoya – Hiyashi Chuka Goma Dare

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* I meant to post this in the summer. Sapporoya serves chilled ramen throughout the year.

Tokyo 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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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)

Tsukemen Momiji in Kokubunji 国分寺 つけ麺 紅葉

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Tsukemen Momiji in Kokubunji is a popular shop that almost always has a line outside of its shop. We went recently to the shop 15 minutes before it opened and joined the queue. Most of those in line looked like college students, and all were men. The sign above the shop says that the noodles are made by hand, “jikasei men” 自家製麺. Momiji is known for its handmade ramen noodles and for its dipping broth for the tsukemen. The noodles and dipping broth are served in two separate bowls. The noodles are dipped into the dipping broth and then slurped up. And, just as done with soba, at the end of the meal hot water is brought if you want to try it with the remains of the dipping broth.
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There is a menu with some photos outside of the shop for those waiting in line. However, everyone when we were there ordered the tsukemen. Orders are made at a vending machine inside the shop that spits out a ticket. Give the ticket to your server when you sit down at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. (I can see and understand how frustrating ordering from a vending machine is for non-Japanese speakers as the menu is only written in Japanese. But, it’s a friendly shop and you could easily point at the photo on the menu outside of the shop or just say “tsukemen” to try the signature dish.)

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And, a handwritten sign listing the types of noodles that are made at the shop. The noodles are all made for that morning.

Futomen 太麺 fat noodles that are chewy with a rich texture, suggested noodles for tsukemen

Hosomen 細麺 skinny noodles that are long and with a good texture

Hirauchimen 平打麺 flat noodles that reveal the sweetness of the flour when it’s chewed

Kawarimen 変り麺 unique, original noodles; the recipe changes from time to time

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Not sure, but I believe this is the owner of the shop. First and foremost because of the music that was playing. All classic 80’s hits, stuff like Journey’s Open Arms. The rest of the staff was young and surely this would not have been their preferred music at work. The owner was busy behind the counter cooking and serving the ramen. It’s a small shop, about a dozen seats at a long counter. There are a row of seats inside the restaurant against a wall for diners who are waiting for an open seat to sit at.

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The dipping broth for the tsukemen. It was very rich with lots of umami. You can see it had negi, menma, and naruto. On the shop’s website it says that the broth is made over 3 days using pork knuckles, chicken feet, pork bones, and chicken as well as smoked, dried skipjack tuna, flying fish, and mackerel.

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This was the futomen, the suggested noodles for the tsukemen. Very chewy and filling. If I go back I’ll try the hosomen or skinny noodles as this was a lot of noodles. However, it was obvious that these were handmade noodles and not mass produced by the texture and flavor.
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The chashu pork which was very tender and meaty, a luxury as the ramen on its own was more than enough food.

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I tried the kawarimen which was on this day an aburamen, very little, rich sauce in the bottom of the bowl, noodles, and a variety of toppings like bean sprouts, seafood sausage, menma, garlic chips, and more. This too was generously portioned and too much for me to finish.

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The kawarimen was served with vinegar that had sliced lemons in it. It was very refreshing and a good way to cut through the rich sauce in the bowl.

If you are on the Chuo line or out in the Western part of Tokyo Momiji is good to have on your radar and worth visiting. The line moves quickly so don’t let that discourage you from  coming here.

Tsukemen Momiji

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-2-15

042-326-3201

Tuesday – Friday: 11:45~14:30 17:45~23:30

Saturday – Sunday

11:45~23:30(中休み無しの通し営業)

定休日 月曜日

2012 Best New Ramen Dishes in Tokyo

2012 Best New Ramen

Here’s a list of some of Tokyo’s popular ramen shops that are using new ingredients for unique bowls. Some of these shops are new while some have added new dishes to their existing menu or changed faces totally. Trends this year include shrimp, seafood, and using offal or fat from meat.

The name of the shop is in English and Japanese followed by the address and phone number.

  1. It’s shrimp! Ebi Men Senmonten Kagurazaka-ten

エビ麺専門店 神楽坂店

Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 6-8

090-3682-8074

Fermented shrimp paste, Malaysian belanchan, is the key ingredient to this ramen.

2. Tsukemen Gonokami Seisakujo つけ麺 五ノ神製作所

Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-33-16

03-5379-0203

Shrimp is used three times in making this tsukemen. The soup is made like a French bisque, pink shrimp (amaebi) heads are cooked in the lard, and dried sakura shrimp is used in the dipping sauce.

3. Motenashi Kuroki  饗 くろ㐂

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda-Izumi-cho 2-15

03-3863-7117

This shop is known for its abura soba that is based on miso. Amaebi is also used here.

4.  Ramen Enya らーめんえんや

Kita-ku, Iwacho 1-1-10

03-3905-6550

blog link with great photos (but not official site for ramen shop)

Very simple bowl of shio (salt) ramen based on a rich broth made with chicken, chicken feet, dried scallops, dried oysters, tai (sea bream), and sanma (Pacific saury).

5.  Menkoitokoro Ichimaku  麺恋処 一幕

Suginami-ku, Shimotakaido 1-31-12

03-6379-6455

blog link with great photos (but not official site for ramen shop)

Katsuobushi (dried skipjack flakes) is a key ingredient in making dashi, the basic stock used in many Japanese recipes. However, here you’ll find a very interesting samebushi which is made from shark. The flavor is similar to a katsuo stock however a bit smokier and not as fishy.

6.  Tsukemen Saidaigen  つけめん最大元

Suginami-ku, Shimoigusa 4-32-18

03-6795-5515

A very interesting fish from Nagasaki, arakabu (rockfish), is the key ingredient to the soup.

7.  Gyukotsu Ramen Matado-ru 牛骨らぁ麺 マタドール

Adachi-ku, Senjuazuma 2-4-17, Nakamura Bldg. 1F

03-3888-3443

Beef bones, suji (tendon), and achilles create a rich, meaty broth. The bowl is topped with sliced roast beef.

8.  Menya Kouno 麺や河野

Nerima-ku, Nakamura 3-13-10

Unlisted phone

Tequila in the soup and a generous topping of fresh cilantro make for an international bowl of ramen.

9.  Ramen Shii らぁ麺 波

Adachi-ku, Yanaka 4-13-12

03-5489-3389

A very creative use of vegetables for the stock make this shop worth checking out. The vegetables change with the season but have included in the past sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, leeks, cabbage, garlic, and more.

10. Mendokoro Yoshitake 麺処 芳たけ

Ota-ku, Oomori-Kita 1-15-10, Iwasa Bldg. 1F

03-3762-1881

blog link with great photos (but not official site for ramen shop)

The chef here has worked at an Italian restaurant, hence the use of dried porcini mushrooms in the broth as well as for a topping.

11. Menya Nakagawakai 麺屋中川會

Koto-ku, Sumiyoshi 2-19-5

03-5625-5545

Dried shiitake mushrooms is a popular ingredient, but this one uses fresh shiitake mushrooms. Also uses apples, oranges, apple vinegar, and yuzu ichimi.

12. Painappuru Ramenya-san Papapapapain

パイナップルラーメン屋さんパパパパパイン

Sugnimai-ku, Nishi-Ogi-Minami 3-12-1

03-3247-2181

blog link with great photos (but not official site for ramen shop)

This shop has been featured on different television programs recently as it uses canned pineapples and pineapple juice as well as pineapple as a topping.

13. Chuka Soba Tobineko 中華そばとびねこ

Toshima-ku, Sugamo 4-24-6

03-5980-8119

A very abura kasu tsukemen as fat and offal is used from beef, pig, and horse.

14. Jimbocho Kai 神保町可以

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda-Jimbocho 2-2-12, Sanesu Bldg. 1F

03-5215-5623

blog link with great photos (but not official site for ramen shop)

This shop was a former miso ramen specialist but now its signature dish is a curry tsukemen made with onions, garlic and curry powder.

Tsukiji Market Cheap Eats

Tenfusa

Tenfusa

Nakaya

Nakaya

Toritoh

Toritoh

Toyochan

Toyochan

There are so many great places to grab a cheap and delicious bite at Tsukiji Market. And don’t worry if you can’t stomach raw fish first thing in the morning. Most of these places open early in the morning and close after lunch.

Here is a short list of some of my favorites:

  1. Tenfusa 天房 is famous for long anago filets and shrimp that have been deep-fried tempura-style are placed on wide bowl of steaming rice. This is drizzled with an umami-rich sweet soy sauce and served with a side of pickles.  Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #6 (03-3547-6766). http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/24_tenfusa/index.htm (Japanese – with good photos)
  2. Nakaya 仲家 for donburi. Donburi are bowls filled with rice and topped with sashimi. Get the luxury bowl of uni, toro, and ikura, or if you are in the mood for something cooked, grilled or simmered fish over rice. Tsukiji 5-2-1 building #8 (03-3541-0211). http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/46_nakaya/index.htm (Japanese – with good photos)
  3. Yoshinoya 吉野家 is a popular fast-food chain famous for its gyudon, thin slices of beef cooked with onions and a sweet soy sauce are ladled over a bowl of rice. A branch of Yoshinoya is in New York City on 42nd Street. The first shop in the chain dates back to 1899 and was located near Nihonbashi. It moved here to Tsukiji with the move of the market. Tsukiji 5-2-1 Building #1 (03-5550-8504). www.yoshinoya.com/shop/tsukiji/index.html  (Japanese)
  4. Oomori 大森 is a curry shop, its signature dish is ½ curry and ½ gyudon. In business since 1923, the restaurant only seats 5 people at the counter. Tsukiji 4-8-7 (03-5565-3704)
  5. Yonemoto 米本喫茶本店 has been serving coffee since 1960. www.yonemoto-coffee.com. Tsukiji 4-11-1 (03-3541-6473).
  6. If you are craving ramen, head to Wakaba 若葉. Wakaba has been making ramen for 50 years with a 2nd generation cook. Tsukiji 4-9-11. (03-3546-6589).
  7. Nakaei 中栄 is a 4th generation shop serving up curry and beef hayashi. Tsukiji 5-2-1 building #1 (03-3541-8749). http://www.nakaei.com/
  8. There are many standing bars for food along Shin-Ohashi Dori. Here you will find hormone don (grilled offal over a bowl of rice) at Kitsuneya きつねや, Ramen at Inoue 井の上, soba at Jindaiji Soba Maruyo 深大寺そばまるよ. Tsukiji Donburi Ichiba 築地丼市場 runs 24 hours and the grilled tuna cheeks is juicy and meaty.
  9. Toritoh 鳥藤 is a 4th generation shop serving grilled chicken over rice. There is a large blue noren with red and blue writing to the left of the entrance. Their retail shop is just around the corner. Tsukiji 4-8-6 (03-3543-6525). www.toritoh.com (Japanese)
  10. Toyochan 豊ちゃん is a yoshoku restaurant famous for its omuhayashiraisu (ketchup flavored rice surrounded by a juicy omelet and topped with a beef stew).  Other popular yoshoku dishes include katsukare-raisu (tonkatsu and curry served over rice) and kanikurokke (creamy crab croquettes). Tsukiji 5-2-1 building #1. 03-3541-9062. http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/11_toyo/#04 (Japanese – but great photos)
More information on Indo Curry Nakaei.
Orimine Bakers is a great little bakery minutes from Tsukiji Market.

Ivan Ramen

Ivan Orkin

Ivan Orkin

Ivan Ramen

Ivan Ramen

Dreams can come true. In the cold winter months, perhaps the most satisfying dish to be had in Japan is ramen. With almost 9,000 ramen shops in Tokyo, it is not hard to find one, but rare is the one where the noodles are handmade from scratch and where the chef is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

Ivan Orkin, a native New Yorker, honed his culinary skills with some of America’s top chefs, including Andre Soltner who founded Lutece and celebrity chef Bobby Flay of Bolo, both famed New York restaurants. With an impressive resume like this, one has high expectations and Ivan does not disappoint.

Before opening his ten-seat ramen shop Ivan ate his way through hundreds of bowls of ramen, taking careful note along the way. Ivan Ramen opened in 2007 and ramen junkies touted his shio (salt) ramen. Soon thereafter bloggers touted his shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. And, recently, after participating in a tsukemen event with the city’s top ramen chefs, diners are coming in asking for the noodles to be dipped in broth.

Ivan also serves a unique mazemen with a base of soy milk, slow-roasted vegetables including tomatoes and garlic with chicken soup that is served with whole wheat noodles.

His standard ramen noodles are made on the second floor of the shop along with some non-traditional flour, as well as whole-wheat, and rye noodles. Ivan’s basic stock in his restaurant is made from chicken stock and a rich, fish-based dashi made from kelp, bonito, and dried sardines.

Aside from the fact that Ivan is the first Westerner to break the ramen glass ceiling in Japan, his restaurant stands apart from the others as it is brightly-lit, family-friendly, and boasts some menu items that stray from your typical noodle shop. The slow-cooked pork and roasted tomatoes over rice will have you swooning and for those with a sweet tooth, Ivan makes ice cream.

Sunkus, the convenience store, has sold instant ramen made by Ivan, selling 600,000 bowls, as well as his original onigiri and pork bowls.

As of this writing, Ivan was serving up a limited edition Mexican mazemen of noodles topped with black bean chili, onions, guajillo chilis, dried tomatoes, lettuce, Monterey jack cheese, with a chipotle chili broth. A great combination of flavors found in his native America and his new home, Japan.

The ever-curious chef is constantly tweaking his art through reading cookbooks, and challenging himself with new gentei (limited edition) noodles.

A bowl of Ivan’s ramen will open your mind to the possibilities that exist with ramen. He brings a unique perspective and culinary skills to the world of ramen. We, the diners, reap the rewards of his creativity and constant honing of his art.

Ivan Ramen, 3-24-7 Minami Karasuyama, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, tel: 03-6750-5540, www.ivanramen.com 

This article first appeared in the American Chamber of Commerce Journal:

http://accjjournal.com/ivan-ramen/

Since then Ivan has opened his second ramen shop, Ivan Ramen Plus. Check out his website above for more deatils. Ivan also answered questions for us here.

Ivan’s newest shop is reviewed here by Robbie Swinnerton in The Japan Times.