Tsukiji Chuka Soba Inoue

Our favorite ramen at Tsukiji is Inoue. This tiny stall that has standing only tables for dining has been in business for fifty years. There is only one bowl that is made from (I believe) chicken and soy sauce broth, has thin noodles, and is topped with slices of pork, menma (bamboo shoots), green onions, and kaiware (daikon sprouts). The soup is light and a good start to the morning.

This is a great start to the day, and in our opinion, better than having sushi for breakfast at Tsukiji as many of the sushi shops have become very touristy. There is usually a line here, so stand in line, order quickly, as the shop is run much like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. Stand and slurp quickly, and then move on to make room for the other diners.

Tsukiji Chuka Soba Inoue 築地中華そば井上

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-16 中央区築地4-9-16

5:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. closed Sunday, holidays, and Tsukiji holidays

Shibuya Hayashi Ramen はやし

On the back streets of Shibuya, a short walk from Mark City and the Inokashira line is Hayashi ramen. There are only 10 seats at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. The ramen at Hayashi is a rich blend of pork and seafood. Meaty and smoky aromas from the bowl are accented with a fresh green punch from the julienned leeks. The thick straight noodles stand up to the rich broth. The toppings of the egg and pork round out this umami-rich bowl. For all that is going on in the bowl, it is well-balanced. No wonder the long lines.

I walk by the shop every few weeks and there is usually a long line. I was lucky to have come recently when the line was shorter than usual and jumped at the chance to try the bowl I have heard much about, and am glad that I did.

Purchase your ticket at the vending machine up front. There are only three options:

ramen 800 JPY; aji tama (with seasoned egg) 900 JPY; yaki buta (1,100 JPY)

The photo above is the yaki buta, which includes the cha shu pork and the seasoned egg.

Hayashi is only open for lunch, starting at 11:30 a.m. It closes at 3:30 p.m., or when the soup runs out. I imagine it usually closes before 3:30 p.m. It is closed Sunday and holidays.

Hayashi はやし

Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-14-9 渋谷区道玄坂1-14-9

Shinjuku Kaijin 海神

Kaijin literally means the God of the Seas, a perfect name for this ramen shop that does not use meat. The seafood soup at Shinjuku Kaijin changes daily based on what seafood is in season. The broth, while rich in flavor, is light and refreshing on the palate. The fish that goes into the broth is written out daily on large white paper that is hung up on the wall.

The menu is read from right to left, top to bottom:

本日のアラ   honjitsu no ara  today’s seafood scraps (head, bones, etc.)

真鯛   madai   sea bream

平政   hiramasa   kingfish (in the same family as yellowtail)

太刀魚   tachiuo   cutlassfish or beltfish

甘鯛   amadai   tilefish

穴子   anago   sea eel

Ara refers to the head, bones, and other scraps of fish that can be either simmered in a sweet soy broth and carefully picked over when eating. Here at Kaijin the chef uses the ara scraps to make the soup stock. Salt is added to the broth. The noodles are thin, which is exactly what this broth needs. It is garnished with julienned leeks, and a chicken and a shrimp dumpling. If you have an allergy, be sure to tell them, ebi no arerugi- ga arimasu.

If you have a big appetite, be sure to order the grilled onigiri (rice ball) and put it into the soup when you are done with the noodles. The salty yuzu koshō paste is also a great way to add depth to the ramen.

Kaijin also has shellfish ramen, like asari (littleneck clam) or hamaguri (Orient clam). I have tried these, but much prefer the complexity of the seafood ramen, their signature dish.

These are the signs in front of the Shinjuku shop. It’s a smaller shop with counter seating for five, a table for four and a table for two. There is often a line going down the stairs, but it usually moves quickly, as this is a quick meal. Be sure not to linger after you’re done eating if there are people waiting.

There are three branches in Tokyo at the time this blogpost was written. I have been to the Kichijoji shop, which is close to the station, but the soup was too salty and I won’t go back. The Shinjuku shop is also near the station and where I go. A new shop has also recently opened in Ikebukuro.

Shinjuku Menya Kaijin

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-35-7

Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Minamicho 1-5-9, Kumamoto Bldg. 2F

Toshima-ku, Ikebukuro 1-19-2

http://www.kaijin-ramen.com/menu.php

 

 

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:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/travel/what-to-do-in-36-hours-in-eastern-tokyo.html

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

千代田区神田須田町1-25-4

http://www.maach-ecute.jp/shop.html

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

www.tokyometro.jp/echika/echikafit_ginza/shop/08/

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:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/07/28/deep-fried-oysters-at-tsukiji-markets-odayasu/

http://www.chowzter.com/fast-feasts/asia-pacific/Tsukiji?rest_id=5111&rest_name=Toyo-chan%20(Tsukiji%20Market)&item_id=5144

Yajima やじ満

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

http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/29_yajiman/index.htm

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)

http://ts-restaurant.jp/english/

 

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

rock1

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).

rock2

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.

rock3

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. The broth is chicken-based.

Image

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.

Image

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), and others in city.

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.