誠信 Seishin

This is my second official review of Seishin, my favourite local shop. My first review was for their torikotsu shio ramen. This time I wanted to try the torikotsu shoyu as I hadn’t eaten it for a couple of years. I went on a Sunday for lunch. Despite the shop being only half full, there were about a dozen people waiting outside to get a seat at Tougen next door. They don’t know what they’re missing!

01 Shop

I ordered the torikotsu shoyu ramen, but declined the free extra noodles. It was topped with steamed spinach, a piece of nori, and coarsely shredded onion. The onion gave it a really nice freshness. It also came with one slice each of pork and chicken.

02 Torikotsu Shoyu

The soup is much dark than the torikotsu shio, as you’d expect. It appear quite oily, but doesn’t taste oily at all. It’s got a lot of flavour but isn’t heavy at all. It’s a really well-balanced soup.

04 Soup

As I mentioned earlier, I declined the free omori (extra noodles), which are offered free at lunchtime. The regular portion of noodles, which were thick, wavy and firm, was more than enough.

05 Noodles

They always give you a slice of juicy chicken with torikotsu ramen, but the pork was the highlight of the toppings. They really know how to do the pork at Seishin. It occasionally has some fat, but it’s never tough and usually melts in your mouth.

06 Pork

I really love everything about this shop – the atmosphere, the staff, and, of course, the ramen. I can’t understand why it’s not the first place in the area to fill up, but I don’t mind because it means I can always get in without waiting.

Score: 9/10

Location: About a 12-minute walk from Tsunashima Station, opposite Uniqlo and Round One. Just follow the giant bowling pin.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区樽町2-2-18 (Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kohoku, Tarumachi 2-2-18)

Price: ¥750 – regular; ¥900 – tokusei

Seating: three tables for four, six counter seats

風々風 Fu Fu Fu

There are a number of ramen shops near my old apartment (I recently moved), but I always go to the same three shops. So one day last Golden Week, I decided to try a different shop called Fu Fu Fu. It is located on a busy road not far from the shopping mall Tressa Yokohama. It was a warm day and the shop doors were open. There was a bit of noise from the traffic, but the shop was filled with fresh air and natural light.

01 Shop

The shop mascot is Santa holding and blowing a bowl of ramen. His picture was everywhere inside the shop.

02 Counter

I ordered a bowl of miso tonkotsu ramen. I requested firm noodles, but left everything else as is. I couldn’t believe the size of the order – it was huge. It was topped with black sesame, a piece of nori, thin carrot strips, steamed spinach, and a pile of bean sprouts. It also had two pieces of pork.

03 Miso Tonkotsu Ramen

I actually found the soup quite oily. It was very hot due to the high oil content, so it took a while to eat. But it was really well-balanced and tasted nice after it cooled a bit. If I ever go back, I’d order abura sukuname (light oil content). You can really see the oil (and black sesame) in the photo below.

04 Soup

As always, I ordered firm noodles. They were thick, chewy Yokohama-style noodles with just the right firmness.

05 Noodles

The two pieces of pork were small but soft, although a bit salty. Pretty standard for Yokohama ramen. You can see a bit of fat on the piece below. It wasn’t tough at all and just melted in my mouth.

06 Pork

I liked this place. It’s a no frills shop, but you get a very filling bowl of ramen. Request “abura sukuname” if you go (unless you really like oily ramen). It’s probably a good winter option.

Score: 7.5/10

Location: About a five-minute walk from Tressa Yokohama; two kilometres from Tsunashima Station.

Address:  神奈川県横浜市港北区駒岡2-5-21 第二タルヤビル1F (Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kohoku, Komaoka 2-5-21)

Price: ¥820

Seating: 14 counter seats

俺の空 Ore no Sora

Only a few days after having a fantastic bowl of gyokai ramen at Miharu in the same ramen gekisenku (fierce ramen war region) area of Ikebukuro, I had to go back to check out another competitor. This time I went for Ore no Sora.

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There was no one waiting outside, so I thought I had lucked out. However, this is Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon, so of course that was too good to be true. There was a queue inside. We decided to wait. It took 30 minutes. I don’t normally bother to wait more than five minutes for food, but I made a special exception here.

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Inside there’s a dark corridor between the entrance and the counter. As we moved along in the queue, the smell of the fishy broth got stronger and stronger.

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It’s quite a nice shop. It has an open kitchen with lots of stainless steel and exposed concrete. There are twelve counter seats but no tables.

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I ordered kake buta soba (掛け豚そば; literally “pork on buckwheat noodles”). It was topped with chopped onions and green onions, a small piece of nori, and a pile of pulled pork. It looked absolutely delicious and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

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I’ll start with the soup. It was outstanding – beautiful, thick tonkotsu-gyokai that smelled and tasted like katsuo bushi (bonito flakes). You can see little fish flakes in the soup.

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It’s not so common in Tokyo ramen, but this ramen had thin, straight noodles. They were very tasty.

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The pork was a highlight (along with the soup). I don’t think I’ve ever had ramen with shredded pork. It was soft and juicy. If they offered chashu men (ramen with extra pork) I’d order it for sure.

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We also ordered these steamed prawn dumplings. It’s always nice when there are good side dishes to choose from.

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Ore no Sora is excellent. It’s right up there with its local rival Miharu. Both the soup and pork are wonderful and I would definitely go here regularly if I lived in Ikebukuro.

Score: 9.5/10

Location: About 10 minutes from Ikebukuro Station.

Address: 東京都豊島区東池袋1-31-7 (Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashiikebukuro 1-31-7)

Price: ¥800

Seating: Counter only – twelve seats

らすた Rasuta

After having ramen twice in as many days, I decided to make it three in three. But instead of venturing into Tokyo, I stayed a little closer to home and checked out Rasuta (as in rastafarian) near Hiyoshi Station. This shop looks old and has very basic decor. Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” played on a loop the entire time I was there.

01 Shop

I ordered a bowl of Rasuta men from the machine but declined the free rice service. Rice with noodles is crazy unless you’re on a high-carb diet. It was served covered in seven pieces of nori.

02 Ramen

Under all that nori was half an egg, green onions, steamed spinach, and three pieces of pork.

03 Ramen

My first thought was that it looked and tasted like iekei ramen, but there was no sign advertising that style. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to change the flavour of the soup, but the other customers were. It was a bit salty and oily, but not as heavy as you’d expect from other iekei imitators.

04 Soup

The noodles were thick and chewy, and there was a good portion of them.

05 Noodles

It’s not often you get three thick pieces of pork. This pork was a little dry but had a really nice texture. I really liked it.

06 Pork

I would’t go out of my way to visit this shop, but if you’re in the area it’s certainly worth checking out.

07 Counter

Score: 7.5/10

Location: Less than 5 minutes on foot from Hiyoshi Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区日吉本町1-5-41 (Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kohoku, Hiyoshi-honcho 1-5-41)

Price: ¥870 (Rasuta men); ¥620 (ramen)

Seating: 19 counter seats

瞠 Miharu

After having such a nice bowl of ramen a couple of days earlier at Emoto Masahiro, I was curious to try some more Tokyo-style fishy ramen. I had heard of the area unofficially known as “Ramen Gekisenku” (literally “intense ramen battle area”) in Ikebukuro. Apparently there are a number of popular ramen shops in the area that are all competing for supremacy, so I decided to check out one called Miharu. I went for lunch on a Tuesday, so luckily there was no wait.01 Shop

As soon as I entered the shop, I could smell the fishy broth. It was strong. I ordered noko gyokai (濃厚魚介, rich fish-flavoured) ramen with free extra noodles. It was topped with one piece of nori, three huge pieces of menma, green onions, and one thick slice of pork.

02 Noko Gyokai Ramen

The soup was a beautiful brown colour with some small fish flakes floating around in it. It was so full of flavour. And it was fishy, which is exactly what I expect from Tokyo-style ramen.

04 Soup

The noodles were thinner that Yokohama-style noodles. They were firm and a bit chewy – just how I like them. I’m glad I ordered free chu mori (中盛り, extra noodles).

05 Noodles

The pork was one of the highlights of this ramen. Although it only came with one slice, it was thick, soft, and fairly lean. It melted in my mouth. I noticed that there was chashumen on the menu, so I might order that next time I go.

06 Pork

Miharu is one of the best ramen shops I’ve been to. It was outstanding. I feel bad for the competition in the area because I don’t see how they can contend with Miharu. And I’m now officially a fan of Tokyo ramen. In fact, it might be my favourite style of ramen now.

07 Outside

Score: 9.5/10

Location: Less than 10 minutes on foot from JR Ikebukuro Station.

Address: 東京都豊島区東池袋1-31-16 (Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 1-31-16)

Price: ¥780

Seating: 12 counter seats

ラーメン惠本将裕 Ramen Emoto Masahiro

When I first moved to the Tokyo area five years ago, I was surprised at how fishy Tokyo-style ramen was. I didn’t care much for it so usually opted for Yokohama iekei or Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen. But recently I decided to give Tokyo ramen another chance. It was late March and I was planning to go to Naka-Meguro to see the cherry blossoms, so I checked out Emoto Masahiro while I was there.

01 Shop

This is a funny little shop. It’s a ramen shop during the day, and a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki shop in the evening. I arrived just after 1pm on a Monday afternoon. All of the five customers were men. Two more arrived after me. A third arrived but was turned away because there was no more soup.

03 Ramen

There is only one item on the menu – niboshi (煮干, dried sardines) ramen. This is your classic Tokyo-style fish ramen with a shoyu base. It was topped with menma (bamboo shoots), chopped onion, spinach, a slice of nori seaweed, and about a 1/4 tablespoon scoop of grated ginger.

05 Soup

The soup had a nice brown colour and was full of fish flakes. It was extremely hot and burnt my tongue at first. But it tasted great.

04 Noodles

Hiding under a large slice of pork was a generous portion of noodles. These were typical Tokyo-style noodles — thinner than Yokohama noodles but thicker than the Hakata variety. The soup was so strong and dark that the noodles had turned brown.

02 Counter

This is a nice little shop. The soup is very fishy, but it’s really nice. I think I’ve acquired a taste for Tokyo-style ramen.

06 Sakura

Score: 8.5/10

Location: Just a few minutes on foot from Naka-Meguro Station.

Address: 東京都目黒区上目黒2丁目7-10 (Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Kamimeguro 2-7-10)

Price: ¥800

Seating: 7 counter seats

ラーメン吉村屋 Yoshimura-ya

This is where Yokohama’s famous iekei (家系, literally “house-type”) ramen originated. I’d been to many of the imitators that use the iekei label, but this was my first visit to Yoshimura-ya. Apparently anyone wishing to use the iekei label has to first train under Yoshimura-san before starting their own business. Then they are free to adapt the recipe as the like. I arrived on a rainy Tuesday in February just past noon. There was a long queue outside, but fortunately there are almost as many seats outside as there are inside, so that made the wait a little more comfortable.

09 Outside

I was instructed to buy a ticket, which was just a plastic tag, at the machine before joining the queue. Luckily, after five minutes a big group of workers left together, so everyone who was waiting got in easily. Inside it was very working class. There were a few office workers, but the clientele were mostly factory workers. The staff dress in white from head to toe — t-shirt, pants, rubber boots, and towel rolled and tied around the head.

01 Counter view

My order was simple — ramen. As at other iekei shops, you can adjust the firmness of the noodles, richness of flavour and amount of oil. As always, I ordered firm (かため) noodles and left the rest as is. It came topped with three pieces of nori seaweed, some spinach and two chunks of pork.

02 Ramen

Similar to other iekei shops, the noodles were only slightly firm. If there were an extra firm (ばりかた) option, I would’ve taken it. Still, they were nice thick yellow noodles.

04 Noodles

The pork had a really nice smoky flavour. It was just a little chewy, but lean.

04 Pork

Now for the soup. Iekei is known for its shoyu tonkotsu (soy sauce and pork bone) broth, and it was fantastic. It had such a nice brown colour and was full of flavour. The pork really dominated the flavour. It was excellent. This is why people come to Yoshimura-ya.

03 Soup

I think this was the best iekei ramen I’ve had. It wasn’t nearly as heavy or salty as some of the others, and the soup was outstanding. A few years ago, I visited Sugita-ya, which I believe is affiliated with Yoshimura-ya. I’ll try to get down there soon so that I can compare the two.

05 Counter

Score: 9/10

Location: About a 10-minute walk from the west exit of Yokohama Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市西区南幸2-12-6 (Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Nishi-ku, Minamisaiwai 2-12-6)

Price: ¥660 (¥760 with extra noodles)

Seating: 26 counter seats and 4 table seats.