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Traveler's Must-Visit: Tokyo Ramen Shops Favored by Locals

13/09/2023 3:00 PM

Traveling in Japan can be challenging for foreigners with some restaurants not accepting them, being hard to locate, or fully booked. Our curated list on zenDine ensures a seamless dining experience at Tokyo ramen spots that are foreigner-friendly and vetted for authenticity

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If you're a fan of ramen, then a visit to Tokyo is a must. The city boasts a diverse and rich ramen scene that has drawn the attention of food enthusiasts from around the globe. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, experiencing Tokyo's best ramen shops is an essential part of any culinary adventure in Japan.

In this section, we'll introduce you to the top Tokyo ramen shops that are favored by locals. These hidden gems offer an authentic taste of Japanese cuisine and are a must-visit for any traveler in Tokyo. With our guide, you'll be able to navigate the city's ramen scene with ease and savor some of the best noodles in the world.

So, grab your chopsticks and get ready to slurp up some deliciousness as we take you on a journey through the must-visit ramen shops in Tokyo.

Exploring Tokyo's Ramen Scene

Tokyo's ramen scene is a food lover's paradise. With an abundance of ramen shops scattered throughout the city, it can be overwhelming for travelers to decide where to begin. Fear not, as we've compiled a guide to Tokyo's popular ramen spots to make your culinary journey a breeze.

Types of Ramen in Tokyo

Ramen in Tokyo comes in a variety of styles, each with its unique flavor profile and preparation method. The most common types of ramen you'll find in the city include:

  • Shoyu (soy sauce-based)
  • Miso (miso-based)
  • Shio (salt-based)
  • Tonkotsu (pork bone broth-based)

Each type of ramen has its unique taste and texture, so don't be afraid to try out different varieties to discover your favorite.

Tokyo's Best Ramen Shops: Great for Foreign Travelers

Get ready to indulge in the best ramen Tokyo has to offer. From iconic establishments to exciting newcomers, these ramen shops have gained fame for their exceptional offerings and unique flavors. Additionally, we are constantly updating our recommendations, adding new and noteworthy restaurants to the list to ensure you always have the best options at your fingertips.

Disclaimer:

The restaurants featured in this article have been meticulously curated based on reviews from locals in Tokyo and our personal experiences with them. Each of these establishments has a profile on zenDine, a premier restaurant discovery platform dedicated to serving the needs of foreign residents and travelers in Japan.

What makes these restaurants stand out for foreign travelers?

English Descriptions: Each restaurant profile on zenDine is displayed in English, ensuring that travelers can easily understand the offerings without any language barriers.

Detailed Information: We provide comprehensive details about each restaurant, including directions, hours of operation, and more.

Vetted for Foreigners: Traveling in Japan can sometimes be challenging. Some restaurants may not accept foreigners, are difficult to locate, or might be fully booked months in advance. The restaurants listed in this article have been vetted to ensure they are foreigner-friendly, ensuring that visitors have a seamless dining experience without any hitches.

By choosing to dine at one of these recommended establishments, foreign travelers can enjoy authentic Tokyo ramen without the usual challenges. We believe that every traveler deserves a hassle-free dining experience, and our curated list aims to provide just that.

Please Note: These are recommendations based on our research and experiences. While we have taken care to select restaurants that offer a great experience for foreign travelers, there are no guarantees. It's always a good idea to check the latest reviews or contact the restaurant directly before planning a visit.

Ramen-ya Shima

Ramen-ya Shima, nestled near Nishi-Shinjuku Gochome Station, stands as a testament to the art of ramen-making. Voted the top ramen spot by renowned Japanese review platforms, it boasts a mere six counter seats, emphasizing an intimate dining experience.

The restaurant's philosophy revolves around crafting a harmonious bowl using only the finest ingredients. Led by a protégé of Shina Sobaya's originator, Ramen-ya Shima has garnered numerous accolades, including TRY magazine's 'Newcomer of the Year'.

The broth, a rich concoction of whole chicken, pork bones, assorted dried seafood, and a hint of dried tomatoes, offers a symphony of flavors that tantalize the palate. Complementing the broth are noodles sourced from Shina Sobaya, perfectly thick for a delightful slurp, while allowing the soup to shine. The dish is adorned with charbroiled chashu slices, delectable shrimp-filled wontons, and an impeccably cooked ajitama egg. Garnishes of menma bamboo shoots and thinly sliced negi complete the ensemble. However, its popularity means seats fill up rapidly, so early arrival and patience are advised.

Ramen FeeL

Located in the serene Ome area of Tokyo, Ramen FeeL stands out for its exceptional Shoyu and Shio ramen bowls, crafted with distinct chicken and duck stocks. The soup, rich in soy sauce flavor, pairs perfectly with their unique noodles, enhanced by thick Menma bamboo shoots. Their Chashu pork varies in fat content depending on the ramen type, complementing the noodles beautifully. The dipping sauce, crispy grilled chicken topping, and freshly made wontons are must-tries.

While they're closed on Wednesdays, it's wise to check their Twitter for any schedule changes. To ease wait times, they offer FeeLFastpass tickets from 7:00 AM and provide a cozy waiting area, Yaneura Feel, upstairs where unlimited coffee and soft drinks are served.

Mukan

Nestled in Japan's vibrant culinary landscape, Mukan stands out as a top-tier ramen destination, ranking #5 on popular Japanese restaurant review platforms. Renowned for its unique oyster-based ramen, Mukan offers a fresh take on the classic noodle dish, drawing both locals and tourists.

Reservations are essential, made a day in advance, ensuring an exclusive dining experience as the daily ramen specials are announced on Twitter.

The intimate setting allows only four guests per slot, ensuring undivided attention from the ramen master. Each bowl, rich in oyster broth, is a blend of savory umami and oceanic hints, elevated by toppings like enoki mushrooms and homemade spicy red miso. Mukan's commitment to quality and its distinctive oyster ramen make it a must-visit for those seeking a truly unique ramen journey.

Ginza Hachigo

Offering a blend of simplicity and luxury, this restaurant showcases Chef Matsumura's mastery in Chinese noodle dishes. Each menu item, though limited, is a testament to precision and quality, from the perfectly balanced noodles and soup to the unique light-flavored miso soup. A standout dish is the 'Rabiori Gourmet's Chinese Soba', a fusion of fragrant French ravioli adorned with truffles and foie gras. Their soups, notably sweet without using Kaeshi, are a must-try.

The restaurant follows a ticket system and serves until sold out, so early arrival is advised. Despite the limited seating, the experience is unparalleled, offering Michelin-recognized French-style ramen.

Iruca Tokyo

Situated adjacent to Tokyo Midtown, Iruca TOKYO stands as a top ramen destination in Central Tokyo. Their signature Porcini Soy Sauce Ramen, priced at 1,300 yen, masterfully combines a rich soup stock with a distinct soy sauce punch. The dish is further enhanced by tender char siu from both chicken breast and pork belly, harmoniously paired with porcini. Every aspect of their ramen preparation, from ingredients to utensils, is meticulously crafted, ensuring a comforting culinary delight. Glowing reviews often spotlight Iruca's flavorful broth and expertly cooked meats, including truffles. A visit to Iruca TOKYO promises an unforgettable ramen experience.

Ramen Kohaku

Quickly rising as a local favorite, this ramen joint has clinched the #2 spot for best ramen in Tokyo, with accolades from TV shows and magazines.

Its standout Shijimi clam-infused broth ramen is a flavor sensation, while the shio ramen, with its house salty broth, consistently wins diners' praise. For a meaty delight, the pork belly rice bowl is a hit, but the pork loin chashu rice bowl, topped with tangy daikon radish, is a true taste adventure. Quality ingredients and expert crafting ensure a delicious soup without any off-notes, enhanced by the house's special salt. The roast pork offerings are irresistibly aromatic, and the crispy ginger wontons in the clam broth offer a delightful taste journey. The grilled pork rice bowl, pairing juicy meat with a creamy egg, is a carnivore's dream.

This rising star in the noodle world promises an unforgettable dining experience, with a menu that'll have you planning your next visit.

Ramen Shibata

Claiming the #4 spot on TableLog Ramen Tokyo Famous Stores 2022, this restaurant blends tradition with innovation, offering a unique ramen experience.

Their Western-style char siu, with its salty, dry texture, pairs beautifully with a soy-based soup, providing a fresh twist on classic ramen. Their rice dishes, enhanced by aromatic shiitake, are a culinary delight. Set in a snug ambiance, the restaurant's focused menu emphasizes quality, with each dish reflecting their commitment to exceptional flavors. Their ramen stands out, especially the sophisticated Shoyu flavor, catering to refined tastes.

With its welcoming atmosphere and scrumptious Chinese noodles, diners are promised a memorable meal.

Motenashi Kuroki

Holding the esteemed #9 rank among Tokyo's elite ramen eateries, Monetashi Kuroki is a beacon of culinary excellence in the ramen realm. Celebrated as the pinnacle of ramen establishments worldwide, it consistently impresses with its impeccable balance of broth and noodles. Their innovative incorporation of unconventional ingredients like olives and tomatoes sets them apart. The standout dish, the Special Shio ramen, is a symphony of clear chicken broth, bamboo shoots, chashu slices, and perfectly marinated ramen eggs, all harmonized by a savory salt base. Their seafood-infused shio ramen, a testament to their culinary prowess, offers a deep dive into oceanic flavors, making this spot an unmissable destination for ramen aficionados touring Tokyo.

Menya Kissou

Holding a prestigious 7th rank on TableLog's top 100 ramen joints in Japan, Menya Kissou stands as a testament to ramen perfection. Their signature tonkotsu-gyokai broth, a harmonious blend of pork bone and seafood, sets them apart in the ramen landscape. Under the meticulous hands of a devoted ramen maestro and his wife, each bowl embodies culinary excellence. The double soup broth, rich and flavorful, pairs impeccably with al dente noodles, while the thick chasu and refined menma add layers of delight. Its immense popularity is evident in the eager queues that form pre-opening. Menya Kissou isn't just a ramen shop; it's a culinary journey, promising an unparalleled experience for both locals and tourists alike.

Ramen Gokan

Nestled just a brief walk from Ikebukuro station, Ramen Gokan has swiftly ascended to the 10th position on Tablelog's esteemed Top 1000 list. This culinary haven is celebrated for its impeccable fusion of shellfish soups and premium chicken stock, crafting an umami sensation that lingers.

Each bowl is a symphony of flavors, from the soy sauce and chicken stock-infused soup with a hint of shellfish undertone to the versatile straight noodles that absorb the broth's richness. The dish is adorned with an array of toppings, including wontons, a trio of chashu, and aromatic roast chicken breast chashu. Their meat rice, drizzled with a tangy yuzu sauce, is a flavorful revelation.

For a seamless dining experience, patrons are advised to utilize the waiting board system from 10:00am and stay updated via X's Twitter.

Ramen Gokan is not just a meal; it's an Ikebukuro culinary adventure awaiting discovery.

Insider Tips for Navigating Tokyo Ramen Shops

If you're planning to visit Tokyo and sample its world-renowned ramen shops, here are some insider tips to help you make the most of your experience:

Beat the Queues

Many of Tokyo's top ramen shops have long queues, especially during peak hours. To avoid waiting in line for hours, try visiting during off-peak hours, such as mid-afternoon or late at night.

Ordering Process

When ordering at a Tokyo ramen shop, it is essential to follow the proper etiquette. First, enter the shop and purchase a food ticket from the vending machine using cash. Afterward, present the ticket to the chef, who will confirm your order before preparing your bowl of ramen. If you're not familiar with Japanese, don't worry – most vending machines have pictures of the dishes alongside the corresponding prices, making it easy to order.

Common Ramen Terminology

To ensure you order the perfect bowl of ramen, it's helpful to learn some basic terminology. Here are some essential ramen terms you should know:

  • Tare: The seasoning, or sauce, that is added to the broth to give it flavor.
  • Chashu: Sliced pork that is often served as a topping in ramen.
  • Nori: Dried seaweed that is often used as a garnish.
  • Ajitama: Soft-boiled eggs that are marinated in soy sauce and often served as a topping in ramen.

Discover Hidden Gems

While Tokyo has many famous ramen shops, some of the most memorable experiences come from discovering hidden gems. Ask locals for recommendations, explore neighborhoods off the beaten path, and keep an eye out for small, unassuming shops. These hidden gems may not have the fame of the big-name shops, but they often offer unique and unforgettable culinary experiences.

By following these insider tips, you'll be able to navigate Tokyo's ramen scene like a pro and discover some of the top ramen shops in the city.

Conclusion

Tokyo's ramen scene is a testament to the city's vibrant and diverse culinary culture. From traditional flavors to innovative creations, there is something for every palate. Regardless of your preferences, exploring the ramen shops in Tokyo is an experience like no other that allows you to immerse yourself in the local food culture.

As you embark on your culinary journey, keep in mind the insider tips we've shared on navigating Tokyo's ramen shops. From understanding the ordering process to mastering the common ramen terminology, these tips will enhance your dining experience and help you discover hidden gems off the beaten path.

So, whether you're a noodle enthusiast or a curious traveler, don't miss out on visiting Tokyo's must-visit ramen shops favored by locals. Indulge in the flavors, embrace the culture, and savor each bowl of ramen for a lasting memory of your time in Tokyo!

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Tokyo Restaurants

zenDine blog author

Haru is a food writer from Tokyo who writes for the company zenDine. He loves to explore all kinds of Japanese food, from simple home dishes to fancy meals at top restaurants.

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