Everyone get excited. It’s ramen time!
Ramen, ramen, ramen, RAMEN — everyone loves ramen. With ramen, it’s all about equal opportunity. From ramen in cups, to cheap bajillion packages for a dollar instant ramen, to lining up an hour and a half for craft ramen in NYC, there is something about a bowl of piping hot broth and squiggly noodles that makes the world a better place. Confession: I didn’t like ramen until my late adult years, but that is a story for another day.
Lucky me, there are several notable ramen joints all within a half mile radius of my home. I really, really love my neighborhood.
Conveniently located right by the station is Afuri, popular among locals and tourists.
Afuri is known for their yuzu infused chicken based stock that has a light finish. Yuzu is a lovely citrus common in Japanese cooking. Their bowl is easier to digest compared to say, Ippudo, known for the rich, milky, fatty both. Both are equally delicious, just different.
The one caveat of Afuri is their menu is only in Japanese, which is quite common in Japan, but since ordering is done through a vending machine it could be challenging (and intimidating) if one doesn’t read Japanese. I prefer the standard ramen, a bowl of hot noodles (yuzu ramen selection is the second button on the top row), but the cold dipped ramen (tsuke men, the second button from the left, second row from the top) is also very popular.
Don’t forget to get extra char siu, a nice slab of pork charred over a coal flame upon ordering. The meat is so tasty and melts in your mouth.
Afuri Ramen (阿夫利 ラーメン)
Ebisu 1-1-7, 117 Bldg.1F
Hours Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 am
Sorry, no website.
Ippudo Ramen 博多 一風堂 — because everyone is obsessed with Ippudo, it seems
Hours Mon – Sat: 11am – 4 am
Sundays 11am – 2am
Website is only in Japanese: http://www.ippudo.com/store/tokyo/ebisu.html
I’ve rounded-up 5 of the most popular ramen spots in Tokyo among locals.
Shin Koiwa 1-4-17
Hours: Mon – Sat. 11:00am-3pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Website is only in Japanese: http://www.menya-itto.com/
Coming in at number two is ramen Dou (道)
I’ve heard good things about this place but they have all these weird rules that makes me not want to go. Ex: hours of operation are from 11:30 until soup runs out, usually around 6 or 7pm, Monday and Tuesday there’s only shio ramen and no dipping ramen (tsuke men). If there are more than four people in line stand in line after purchasing a meal ticket. If there are more than 5 people in line, stand in line to buy a meal ticket, purchase from a server then stand back in line (what does all this even mean???) There are even rules on how to conduct yourselves after finishing your bowl. Huh? I picture the ramen shop owner like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld which prevents me from wanting to go.
Hours: everyday from 11:30 until soup runs out
Third up is Koukaibou. Oh man that broth looks divine and that’s exactly what they’re known for. It’s a fish and pork stock based ramen. Yum.
Hours: Mon, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 11:00am-3:00pm; Saturday and holidays from 11:00am-3:00pm. Closed Sundays, Wednesday, and sometimes on holidays
Tanaka Shouten comes up next. Their creamy pork broth takes three days to prepare. I found the photo of the nori (seaweed) with ‘thank you’ written in several languages I just had to include. It made me smile.
Tanaka Shoten (田中商店）
Hours: Open daily from 6pm-4am
Website is in Japanese only but the photos are pretty: http://www.tanaka-shoten.net/menu/index.html
Last up, Ramen En. Their soup is fish based (niboshi or baby sardines) and boy are they popular with the locals. Of the five, this one is probably the easiest to get to but it’s still a bit far. (The other four are super out of the way from Central Tokyo; like a journey) Downside is there are only seven seats at the counter, so I’d recommend going during a weekday.
Hours: Closed on Wednesday, open on Sunday 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-Midnight (or until soup runs out)
The noma chefs fancy this place (it’s also right by the Mandarin Oriental too). To quote Ryan Poli: “My fav ramen on earth, Kikanbo Ramen (aka devil ramen) . All other ramen should be ashamed”
Copy and paste this into Google Maps: 東京都千代田区鍛冶町2-10-10
Hours: M – Saturday 11:00am – 9:30pm
Sunday 11am – 4pm
Website (Japanese only): http://karashibi.com/access.html
That about does it. You’re welcome.
*photos for the bottom five are taken from Tabelog, the Yelp equivalent here. For some reason when I try to link to the photos to attribute, the link disappears. Japanese sorcery.
PS: Lucky Peach just launched an online magazine and their first issue has a ramen guide! And it’s splendid. Check out the piece here.