Ramen is a dish that’s very high in calories and sodium. One way to make it slightly healthier is to leave the soup and just eat the noodles - Masaharu Morimoto
When you’re in Tokyo, it would be a tragedy not to sample the best food that the city has to offer, and that means indulging in one of Japans’ most famous culinary dishes, Ramen.
But with so many restaurants in the city, how do you know which of them is responsible for creating the best Ramen dishes?
In order to make sure that your taste buds experience a world of exotic, tantalizing, and mouth-watering Ramen favors when you touch down in the Japanese capital and need to hit the ground running, we’ve found the best Ramen in Tokyo, so all that you need to do is show up and eat…
Nakiryu is only the second Ramen restaurant in history to be awarded a Michelin star, and its reputation has spread far and wide as it’s one of the most popular noodle eateries in Tokyo.
With no reservation system in place, when lunch is served, if you don’t turn up early, you can sometimes end up waiting for nearly two hours to be seated and served.
The house specialty is Nakirtyu’s Shoyu Ramen, a pork-centric noodle soup that features a trio of barbecue pork as well as other pork-based surprises, half a boiled egg, a shrimp wonton, and more menma and green onion than you ever thought you’d be able to eat, all of which is served in a rich soy sauce soup.
It is, as the locals will happily tell you, Ramen heaven
And if you don’t want to sample the Ramen when you turn up? Don’t worry, Nakiryu are also famous for their Tantanmen dishes, so whatever your noodle desires are, this award-winning restaurant can, and will, cater to your every craving.
The bad news though? They’re always closed on Tuesdays.
You can find Nakiryu at 2-34-10 Minamiohtsuka in Toshima-ku and their lunchtime service hours run between eleven-thirty and three (we recommend you either turn up early or late) and they open up again in the evening between six and nine.
Even the best-kept secrets can’t stay a secret forever, and in less than a decade, Mendokoro Haru has gone from being a local favorite to one of the darlings of the Japanese Ramen scene.
They have a penchant and unique flair for creating all sorts of soy-inspired dishes but the stand-out item on their menu, and the one that really put them on the Ramen map was, and still is, their Soba.
A whirlwind of dense, heavy, and delightful flavors that combines seaweed, menma, the ever-present egg, and a generous helping of chashu pork, one bowl is never enough.
Which is probably why Haru offers a refill service, and for a little extra you can get another helping of either soy or salt noodles - both are equally good and when soaked in the Soba, are a mind-blowing taste revelation.
Like Nakiryu, Haru doesn’t believe in a reservation system and surprisingly for Tokyo, they don’t accept credit cards either.
But they are open every day of the week between eleven and three and six and nine and on weekends between eleven and five, so if you do want to stroll over to 1-11-7, Shitaya, Taito-Ku and pay them a visit, make sure that your pockets are full of yen and that you’re prepared for the inevitable wait that you’ll encounter.
The last of the holy Ramen triumvirate (there are lots of other great Ramen restaurants in Tokyo, but in our humble opinion, these three are the best), Toripaitan Kageyama used to be a place that only Ramen devotees knew about and worshipped at the altar of.
Taking its name from the Ramen dish that it made it famous among its faithful, tori paitan (which is a savory chicken rich Ramen soup), the local favorite paitan that it serves uses noodles from one of Japan's premier noodle makers and mixes them with red leaf lettuce, fried green lettuce, the obligatory egg, and steamed chicken.
The end result is an exquisite Ramen that’ll let you delight in its subtle flavor without overpowering any of your senses.
Using a similar no reservation and no credit card approach to doing business as the other two restaurants on our list, Toripaitan Kageyama is open seven days a week and opens its doors at eleven in the morning and closes them at eleven-thirty at night.
If you want to try their specialty tori paitan (and we strongly recommend that you do while you’re in Tokyo), you can find them at 1-4-18 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, but make sure that you’re prepared to wait in line, as their reputation precedes them and they’re always incredibly busy and that you’re carrying yen in your pocketbook to comfortably see you through multiple courses and dishes.
Because once you step through their doors, you’ll never want to leave.