Ramen is one of Japan’s most popular foods that everyone needs to try at least once. There’s so much variety when it comes to Japanese ramen – you can have it creamy, spicy, light, savory, with thick or thin noodles, with lots of meat or vegan-friendly toppings – the possibilities are endless! And if you’re planning a trip to Japan in the near future, chances are you’ll want to try it as well. We are here to introduce you to the top 8 ramen shops to enjoy in Tokyo.
1. Nagi Ramen
Nagi Ramen is a chain restaurant with multiple locations throughout Tokyo. If don’t want to go too far off the beaten path, we suggest you try the one in Golden Gai, Shinjuku, as you’re certainly going to visit the area. Nagi’s specialty is the niboshi ramen – a savory stock made by boiling sardines for over 10 hours, but they do serve tonkotsu and regular spicy broth as well. Their ramen is certainly delicious, but it does have a pungent smell – so you’ll have to be pretty open-minded about trying something different. The prices are pretty affordable – you’ll be paying between ¥800 and ¥1000 for a bowl.
Restaurant name: Shinjuku Niboshi Golden-Gai Honkan
Address: Shinjuku Golden-Gai (G2 street) 2F,1-1-10, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Business hour: Open 24h
Phone number: (+81)3-3205-1925
Official website: http://www.n-nagi.com/english/
2. Ichiran Ramen
Ichiran Ramen is the perfect place for those who aren’t necessarily comfortable speaking Japanese. You don’t have to interact with the staff at all, just order your ramen from the ticket vending machine, and complete a form specifying the level of richness, spiciness, and a couple other details. Their specialty is tonkotsu ramen, which is a pretty rich-tasting broth, to begin with, so you might not want to go for the highest level on the ‘richness.’ A bowl of ramen at Ichiran costs ¥790, and if you want to add extra toppings (¥50-¥100 each), it can add up to ¥1000.
Restaurant name: Shinjuku Niboshi Golden-Gai Honkan
Address: 1-22-7 B1F Jinnan Shibuya-ku Tokyo-to 150-0041
Business hour: Open 24h
Official website: https://ichiran.com/
If you’re looking for something lighter than niboshi and tonkotsu, try the light marutama men at Marutama. Their bowls might not look that filling at first, with pretty thinly sliced chashu and tons of green onion, but the chicken broth itself packs enough flavor for the whole dish. They also serve several other dishes including aosa ramen, which has a generous serving of sea lettuce for a topping. Might look weird at first, but it’s definitely worth a try! The prices at Marutama range from ¥800 to ¥1500 for the big Kakuni Aosa Tamagoiri (pictured above.)
Restaurant name: Marutama
Address: 2-11-1 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku Tokyo
Business hour: Monday-Saturday 11:30 am-2: 30 pm, 5:30 pm-9 pm. Sundays and National Holidays 11:30 am-3 pm
Phone number: (+81)70-5201-5690
Official website: http://www.ma-rutama.com/
Situated in Shinagawa-ku, Tagano is one of the best ramen shops specializing in Tokyo-style chuka soba – a perfect thing to start with if you’re a ramen newbie. Their broth is a blend of dried sardines and chicken, which is really flavorful without getting overwhelming. The only downer about this place is that it’s pretty far off the beaten path – but if you’re in the area, treat yourself to a Tokusei Chuka Soba from Tagano. That will cost you ¥1020, but you can also get a bowl for as little as ¥750.
Restaurant name: Tagano
Address: 2-15-10 Nakanobu, Shinagawa-ku Tokyo
Business hour: Monday-Sunday 11:30 am-2:30 pm, closed Wednesdays
Official website: http://www.geocities.jp/taganoya/
In case you’re looking for a more elegant place that your average ramen bar, Watanabe in Takadanobaba might be a good option. Most ramen bars don’t really put much emphasis on their interior – after all, it’s all about the food. But Watanabe is different – aside from their rich tonkotsu gyokai broth, the place has a really nice design and atmosphere. Despite that, the place is not pretentious at all – you can eat a wholesome meal for under ¥1000. They’re also famous for their homemade menma (bamboo shoots), which are much thicker and flavorful than your regular ones.
Restaurant name: Watanabe
Address: 2-1-4 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Business hour: Monday-Sunday 11 am – 8 pm
Official website: http://www.watanabestyle.com/
6. Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto
Restaurant name: Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto
Address: 201, 4-33-3 Tokiwadai, Itabashi-ku Tokyo
Business hour: Monday-Sunday 10 am – 2 am
Official website: http://www.moukotanmen-nakamoto.com/
7. Oreryu Shio-ramen Shibuya-sohonten
Now this one might be a bit of a tongue twister, and also a bit of a hidden gem right in the middle of Shibuya. This place serves the wonder that is fried chicken spicy ramen – yes, you’ve heard that right, they use KFC-style chicken strips as toppings for a spicy chicken and fish broth, and it’s a mouthwatering combination. Might not be the classic Tokyo ramen, but still worth trying after a night out in Shibuya.
Oreryushio also takes the trophy for the most affordable ramen place on this list, selling their Shio Ramen for only ¥680. The fried chicken one will cost you ¥980.
Restaurant name: Oreryu Shio-ramen Shibuya-sohonten
Address: 1 Chome-22-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0043
Business hour: Monday-Sunday, 11am-6am
Official website: http://oreryushio.co.jp/
8. Sora no Iro
While this might irk some of you ramen elitists, Sora no Iro serves a delicious vegan ramen dish – with a carrot and cabbage-based broth, as well as fresh seasonal toppings. You can opt for a hard-boiled egg as a topping if you’re vegetarian, or stick to veggies if you’re on a strict vegan diet. The noodles are made with paprika extract, which gives them a nice color and a subtle flavor. Moreover, you can go gluten-free for an extra ¥150! Speaking of prices, Soranoiro is a bit more expensive than your average ramen shop – expect to pay up to ¥1300 for a bowl of veggie ramen with GF noodles and extra toppings. However, it’s still a must visit if you’re vegan and don’t want to miss out on Tokyo ramen!
Restaurant name: Sora no Iro
Address: 1-3-10 Hirakawachō, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Business hour: Monday-Friday: 11am-3:30pm, 6pm-10pm; Saturday: 11am-3:30pm; Sundays – closed.
Official website: http://soranoiro-vege.com/english.html
Bottom line is: whether you opt for a chain store or a family shop with a long history, whether you like your broth spicy and rich or light and mild, ramen is the perfect comfort food you can enjoy just about anywhere in Tokyo. Also, anyone can enjoy ramen – so even if you didn’t like it the first time you tried, make sure you go to a different place and give it another go – it’s popular for a reason.
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