真武咲弥 Shinbusakiya

It’s been a couple of months since I last went to a ramen shop. I was in Shibuya today and, although the temperature was a muggy 28C, I decided to find a good place for a hot bowl of noodles. There are so many shops to choose from in Shibuya. I had a couple of gyokai ramen places on my wish list, but both were full and neither had space for a baby car (I was with my wife and daughter). So we ended up at Shinbusakiya, a miso ramen joint in Dogenzaka. We arrived at 12:45pm and the place was nearly empty, but it filled up within about 10 minutes of our arrival.
01 Shop
The shop has a nice atmosphere. The building is old, but it’s been fixed up nicely. It is a chain with eight locations, two of which operate under a different name and specialize in tsukemen.
03 Inside
I ordered aburi miso ramen (broiled miso ramen). They also had spicy and special miso ramen, but since this was my first visit here, I got the most basic option. Toppings included green onions, bean sprouts, minced pork, one slice of chashu, a half teaspoon of grated ginger, and even a few slices of white onion. It also had two thick pieces of delicious menma. There were so many toppings on this ramen.

04 Ramen

06 Ramen

The soup was very nice. It was a bit oily and very hot. It had a medium thickness with a very smoky flavour and some traces of pepper.
07 Soup
The noodles were typical Sapporo style – thick and wavy. While I do prefer the thin, straight Hakata style noodles, miso ramen just wouldn’t be the same without the thick and wavy variety. Look at how the soup just clings to these noodles. They were very nice.
09 Noodles
I just love thick pieces of menma (fermented bamboo shoots).
08 Menma
Miso ramen is the perfect winter food, and I would like to come here again on a chilly day in January. Even though today was a hot day, this ramen really hit the spot.
05 Ramen
Score: 8/10
Location: Doganzaka, about a five-minute walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit).
Seating: First floor – ten counter, four table seats; Second floor – four counter, ten table seats.
Price: ¥820 (Aburi miso ramen)
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三ツ矢堂製麺 Mitsuyado Sei-men

Mitsuyado Sei-men is a large chain with locations all over Japan, and even one in Manila. I popped into the main shop in Naka-Meguro in August for some for their gyokai tonkotsu ramen. I got there late in the afternoon, and the shop was quite busy given the time of day. The atmosphere is good –  wooden decor and jazz playing over the speakers. There is outdoor seating available, although I can’t imagine sitting outside on a 32 degree day eating a piping hot bowl if ramen.

01 Shop

They have quite an extensive menu, including tsukemen, ramen, and a variety appetizers. Tsukemen seems to be the most popular item on the menu, but I was here for the ramen.

02 Gyokai Tonkotsu Ramen

I ordered a bowl of gyokai tonkotsu ramen. I came with pork, green onions, a tiny piece of nori, menma, and kamaboko (steamed fish paste – it’s white and pink). I love kamaboko in my ramen!

03 Soup

The soup had a nice, fishy flavour. It was thick and not oily. Just look at that lovely brown colour. It was the highlight of this ramen.

04 Noodles

There wasn’t a huge portion of noodles, but they were excellent – straight and chewy.

05 Pork

There was just one piece of pork, but it was so tender it fell apart when I attempted to pick it up with my chopsticks. It was delicious.

This is a very good shop. The quality is high, but the portion is a bit small considering the price. Still, it’s worth checking out if you’re in Naka-Meguro, but I’d recommend nearby Emoto Masahiro.

Score: 8.5/10

Location: Just outside the south exit of Naka-Meguro Station

Address: 東京都目黒区上目黒3-3-9 (Tokyo, Meguro-ku Kamimeguro 3-3-9)

Price: from ¥780

Seating: 44 seats, including outdoor seating

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

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

福気 Fukuki

Fukuki is yet another ramen shop I found on Ramen DB. It’s such a great website for finding good places to eat ramen. We went there in late January before visiting Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden in Hamamatsucho.

01 Shop

It’s a nice clean shop with a warm atmosphere. It wasn’t busy, which is surprising for a Sunday afternoon in Tokyo.

02 Interior

I ordered kurofuku, the shop’s specialty. Toppings included pork, spinach, leeks, two pieces of nori, a boiled egg and some sesame seeds.

03 Ramen

Fukuki specialises in tonkotsu shoyu ramen. The broth had a very strong smell and was very flavourful. The colour was fairly dark, hence the name “kurofuku”, or black fuku. It was somewhat oily, but not heavy.

04 Soup

I ordered my noodles “katame” (firm). They were thick and wavy.

06 Noodles

There were two types of pork. They were both very tender and tasted really nice.

05 Pork

I liked this shop. There are so many place to eat in Hamamatsucho, so I’d like to check out some of the other shops in the area next time I’m there. But Fukuki is worth visiting.

Score: 7.5/10

Location: About 2 minutes from Daimon Station; about 10 minutes from Hamamatsucho Station

Address: 東京都港区芝大門2-1-1

Price: ¥900

Seating: Counter: 8 Table: 8

ラーメンさんぱち Ramen Sanpachi

I was in Ochanomizu in early January when I had a sudden craving for a hot bowl of ramen. I had a look on Ramen Database and found Sanpachi. Apparently it’s a chain from Hokkaido. There are quite a few shops in Sapporo, but only ten or so outside of Hokkaido. It was mid-afternoon on a Wednesday when I visited the shop. It was empty when I arrived apart from the middle-aged woman who was running the place. The walls were decorated with autographed pictures of female professional wrestlers, and 70s J-pop played over the speakers. This place had a real Showa Era atmosphere. I liked it.

01 Exterior

This is a chain from Hokkaido, so the specialty is miso ramen. My order came topped with bean sprouts, green onions, kamaboko (a kind of steamed fish cake), menma (fermented bamboo shoots), minced pork, and one soft slice of pork loin. This was listed as the most popular (ninki number one) on the ticket machine.

03 Miso Ramen

The soup was a little thinner than your typical miso broth. It had a fair bit of oil which kept it hot. It really warmed me up on a cool winter day.

04 Soup

It came with a decent portion of wavy, slightly soft, Sapporo-style noodles. Nothing special about them, but they were satisfying.

05 Noodles

Sanpachi is worth checking out for the nostalgic 70s atmosphere of the shop. I really wish I had taken a few photos of the interior, but a couple of salarymen arrived just after me which made it hard to discretely photograph the place.

Score: 7.5/10

Location: About 10 minutes on foot from Ochanomizu Station

Address: 東京都文京区湯島1丁目11-13

Price: ¥750

Seating: Counter only — maybe 12 seats