I stopped eating ramen shortly after moving to Japan (I got sick of it) and now mainly stick to udon or soba. Last night, I was dragged to my neighborhood Afuri after dinner and was shocked.
Wait, let me back up since this might be confusing for people who have never been to Afuri. At Afuri in Japan (and a lot of fast, casual joints), you can only order through a vending machine. And in only six months (or maybe longer?) the buttons got an overhaul and there’re now a ton of buttons I don’t recognize! AND they’re also in English!!
Just in case I’ll leave some tips explaining the new buttons (or new to me) because the English translations are weird/not self explanatory:
Very bottom right button (and also pictured in the close-up): hand pulled noodles for ¥167 extra
Next to that one is konjak-men: gluten free noodles (they sell them stateside as ‘Shirataki’ noodles)
The little rice bowl on the yellow button is okaka gohan. Okaka is katsuobushi (skip jack tuna shavings) tossed with soy sauce over a bowl of rice. It sounds a bit unapproachable but this combination is a traditional, beloved flavor pairing from centuries ago.
Also, this is VERY important. Afuri is expanding all about Tokyo but the original branch is the Ebisu location. The Ebisu location makes the ramen stock for all the other Afuris and deliveries the stock throughout the day in these big metal cans.
Don’t get me wrong, all of them are good but the Afuri in Ebisu is the only one I eat at and recommend.
PS: I also did a ramen round-up here