If you never ate Ramen, it is about time that you try doing so and join the millions in Japan and around the world who consider this very simple soup dish an exquisite delicacy! Ramen, in general – is a simple Japanese noodle soup dish. It consists of wheat base noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth and flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, menma, and green onions. As simple as it sounds, there are literally thousands of different Ramen styles and tastes to fit any noodle soup lover.
Before we get to the list of the top Ramen shops in Tokyo, let’s first understand what is the difference between the ramen dishes and what those different Ramen soups contain. By understanding the basics of Ramen dish contents, you will find it much easier to order and enjoy the taste you like, regardless of which restaurant you choose to eat it in.
First things first – let’s learn the basics!
In a very general way, we can divide all Ramen dishes to 7 overall categories which will contain the thousands variations offered in restaurants around Tokyo.
- Shoyu Ramen – The very basic of all Ramen which is a soy sauce based soup.
- Miso Ramen – Fermenting soybeans Miso paste is mixed into the soup.
- Shio Ramen – Very light type of Ramen soup which is clear and use only salt for seasoning.
- Tonkotsu Ramen – This soup is very creamy and is in fact a Pork soup.
- Spicy Ramen – In this category you will find all the very red colored super spicy Ramen soups.
- Tsukemen – This type of Ramen is eaten with a separate bowls of soup and noodles which are then dipped in the soup.
- Original – Every Ramen shop is proud to showcase their very special and secret ingredients Ramen soup. It will usually be highlighted in the menu and be the main dish which most customers will order.
Ramen boom around the world!
In the past 10 years, a growing numbers of Japanese Ramen shop owners decided to go abroad and spread the Ramen gospel around the planet. Ramen restaurants are now available in almost any major city around the world, and the restaurants are packed with long lines of waiting customers at the door. Although international Ramen shops are as good as Japanese home grown shops and by no mean taste different, there is one major advantage to try the local Japanese Ramen shops in Tokyo over the international Ramen you tried back at home. It is the variety of taste! Even in New York, where you can find quite a lot of Ramen shops everywhere, eventually, if you are a Ramen lover, you will be trying all available shops and learn their taste. But in Tokyo, you will need to spend a lifetime if you want to try all the available Ramen shops and tastes! Enjoy this fact that you are offered an exquisite experience in the place where Ramen was initially created and evolved from and enjoy the original tastes Tokyo Ramen master chefs can offer!
Now lets get down to business and take you where Ramen is happening in Tokyo. The list below are some of the most unique and local Ramen restaurants which I can recommend, located in different parts of Tokyo for your convenience. Simply check on the map which is the closest to your hotel and hit the streets to check out those shops on an empty and growling stomach!
1. Yoroiya – Asakusa
Although this shop looks like a small business, it is actually the first ramen shop to be nominated in the Hall of fame by the ramen king Ishigami in his book. A Tokyo style, soy sauce based Ramen and established for over 20 years in Asakusa. Sophisticated taste from chicken, pork , dried fish, sea weed and vegetables with an accent from yuzu, a type of citrus peculiar to Japan. Just try it and you’ll see why the place is always crowded. The place is located right next to the big Asakusa Sensoji temple and can be reached by simply leaving the temple from the side gate leading to Nakamise street. The shop is located right on the first corner from the temple gate. There are counter seats on the 1st floor and table seats suitable for families and groups on the 2nd floor. Ramen is offered from 700yen and best of all, English menu is available!
- Name: Yoroiya
- Address: 1-36-7 Asakusa, Taitou-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3845-4618
- Access: Take the Subway Ginza Line and get off in Asakusa Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 8:30pm
- Website: http://yoroiya.jp
2. IPPUDO – Ginza
Ippudo, also known as “Hakata Ippudo” in Japan, is a very famous Japanese Ramen restaurant chain with many branches all around Japan. The restaurant chain first shop was established in Fukuoka, in southern Japan where its name was created from. Ippudo means in Japanese “One Wind Hall” and legend say that its owner saw dark clouds gathering over Kyushu Ramen industry and decided to create a clear wind that will blow those clouds away! This restaurant chain has since then expanded globally and now offers branches in 20 different countries! The Ginza shop is one of the more luxurious branches in Tokyo and is located near Ginza main Subway station, Higashi-Ginza. It is just a short walk from the station to the restaurant entrance on the first floor of the building. You can easily recognize it by the white paper lantern at the entrance!
- Name: IPPUDO
- Address: 4-10-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3547-1010
- Access: Take Toei Asakusa Line and get off in Higashiginza Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 2am
- Website: http://www.ippudo.com
3. Usagi – Shibuya
Located in west of Shibuya station is Usagi Ramen shop. “Usagi” means in Japanese Rabbit and you can easily recognize the restaurant by the little flag above the shop entrance featuring a cute hand drawn rabbit holding a noodle soup bowl. The is a very small shop with only 11 counter seats, but that is exactly why it is so much fun to eat there. It is very local and when you eat in such small establishment, you can see how your Ramen is been prepared right in front of you. Once ready, the chef himself will serve you the bowl. It is like having a private Ramen chef making your food and even chatting with you if he is not too busy. The shop offers their special ramen as well as Tsukemen, and Gyoza. To order any of the dishes, simply go tho the side automatic machine and pay to get your ticket. Sit at any of the available chairs and give your ticket to the chef and enjoy one of the best Ramen shops in Shibuya area!
- Name: Usagi
- Address: 8-13 Shinsencho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-6464-4111
- Access: Take the Keio Inokashira line and get off in Shinsen Station
- Opening hour:
Monday-Friday 11:30am – 3pm / 6pm – 10pm
Saturday 11:30am – 3pm
4. Harukiya – Ryogoku
Ogikubo area is considered among many Ramen lovers as the focal point of all Ramen shops in Tokyo. The main reason for this special title is because of a very small shop which is located in a modest building but serves one of the best Ramen in Tokyo, Harukiya Ramen!
The restaurant was first built in the 1950’s and become so popular in the 80’s andt was featured in the famous Ramen movie “Tampopo” where a truck driver stops at Harukiya and after eating there, decide to stay and help the family run business. Harukiya Ramen is a shoyu (soy sauce) based soup mixed with both bamboo shoots and dried sardines! The smell of this soup is unforgettable and is extremely delicious. The restaurant also offers Tsukamen, Wonton soup, Ohmori large noodles and its famous Ajitsuke Tamago which is a flavored build egg!
- Name: Harukiya
- Address: 1-4-6 Kamiogi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3391-4868
- Access: Take the Chuo or Marunouchi Lines and get off in Ogikubo Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 9pm
- Website: http://www.haruki-ya.co.jp
5. Setagaya – Komazawa-Daigaku
Located right next to Kamazawa University on Kannana-Dori, near Komazawa-Koen Station on the Denentoshi line is one of the most famous Ramen restaurants in Setagaya area. This Ramen shop is one of the founding fathers of the two shifts Ramen shop where the restaurants serves in both day time and late night shifts. The speciality Ramen in Setagaya is called “Hirugao” and is a lightly salted Shio Ramen. The soup is made of fish and meat stock mixed well together. The restaurant offer with its flagship Ramen an Ajitama flavored boiled egg and tender sliced pork with seaweed toping. This special Ramen shop is a top hit in the past 10 years and if you are in Setagaya area, make sure not to miss this very special taste!
- Name: Setagaya
- Address: 2-1-2 Nozawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3418-6938
- Access: Take the Denentoshi Line and get off at Komazawa-Daigaku Station
- Opening hour: 6pm – 3am
- Website: http://setaga-ya.com
6. Fuunji- Shinjuku
Located comfortably a short walking distance from Minami Shinjuku station is Fuunji Ramen. The restaurant is a small establishment offering 15 counter seats and is pretty much full all day long. In case you can not get a seat immediately, simply wait by the door for customers to leave and hop-in on the next available seat. Fuunji Ramen is specialized in Umami fish bases Ramen and Tsukemen. The soup is very creamy and served with smoked fish powder on top of the soup ingredients. The price of the Ramen and Tsukemen starts from ¥1,ooo and is well worth both the money and the wait at the door. Although it made of fish mix, the taste of fish is almost unnoticeable and it taste like pork Ramen. You can also order an extra pork slices to add to the delicious mix!
- Name: Fuunji
- Address: 2-14-3 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-6413-8480
- Access: Take the JR Yamanote and get off in Shinjuku Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 3pm / 5pm – 9pm
- Website: http://www.fu-unji.com
7. Misoyaseibee – Ueno Okachimachi
Located right outside Ueno Okachimachi market between the Subway station and the Ueno JR Yamanote station is one of the top Ramen shops in Ueno area, Misoyaseibee ramen! The place is quite big and offers 14 counter seats and 32 table seats that can fit up to 4 people per table. The restaurant is open from 11am to 5am the next morning and is one of the best places to grab a Ramen in the very early morning hours before the city wakes up. As its name suggest, the shop is specialized in thick and creamy Miso ramen but it also serves Gyoza, Rice, grilled dumplings and flavored boiled eggs. The Ramn is usually served with sesame seeds seasoning and sliced pork over a bed of seaweeds with bean sprouts, cabbage and lots of bamboo shots.
- Name: Misoyaseibee
- Address: 4-2-1 Ueno Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3834-3555
- Access: Take the JR Yamanote Line and get of at Ueno Okachimachi Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 5am
8. Mutahiro – Kokubunji
If you find yourself at the very edge of eastern Tokyo Tachikawa area, do not miss this very special Ramen shop located a walking distance from JR Sobu Line Kokubunji Station which is about 20 minutes ride from Shinjuku Station. The shop is tiny and offer only 9 counter seats, but don’t let the small place mislead you, this is one of the best Ramen shops in the whole district. The shop is easily recognized by the white paper lantern at the entrance and the colorful “Mutahiro” logo on it. If you like that cute logo, do not hesitate to ask for a “VIP sticker”, as the shop has a beautiful round sticker that looks exactly like the chef, Mutahiro san! The sticker also allows you to get free topping at any time! The shop is specialized in sliced chicken Niboshi Ramen with side dish of flavored boiled eggs from Oyama in Tottori Prefecture. The noodle are quite thick and reminds of an Italian pasta noodles. Once finishing the soup (that it, if you mange to finish it all the way to the last drop) you will find a special Japanese Kanji letter at the bottom to foresee the future! What can be better then Ramen and future telling in one deal?
- Name: Mutahiro
- Address: 2-3-6 Honcho Kokubunji Tokyo
- Tel: 042-328-4339
- Access: Take the JR Sobu Line and get off in Kokubunji Station
- Opening hour: 11:30am – 3:00pm / 6pm 1 11pm
- Website: http://mutahiro.com/index.html
9. Bashiraa – Ningyo-cho
Ningyocho is one of the oldest districts in Tokyo and is known to host some of the best restaurants in town. Located very close to Ginza and Nihonbashi, it is easily accessed by train or walk from the center of Tokyo. Bashiraa Ramen is located just around the corner from Ningyocho Station on the Hibiya or Hanzomon Subway lines and you can easily recognize the place by the white paper lantern and the wood sign above the door. The place is quite small, offer 21 seats and its famous dish is a very special vegetable based creamy soup like no other in Tokyo. The soup is quite thick and comes with sliced pork, and lots of fresh vegetables on top. One of their specials offer a soup with a huge amount of sliced fresh onions covering the bowl like a small mountain of greens! The noodle are very thick and flat and reminds of Italian pasta. The restaurant also offers Goyza and fresh vegetable side dish.
- Name: Bashiraa
- Address: 2-11-8 Nihonbashiningyocho, Chuo-ku Tokyo
- Tel: 03-5623-2780
- Access: Take the Hibiya Subway Line or the Hanzomon Subway Line and get off at Ningyocho Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 2pm / 6pm – 9:30pm
10. Bankararamen – Ikebukuro
Located about 500 meters from Ikebukuro station on the JR Yamanote line is one of the finest Ramen shops in the area, Bankararamen.
The place is quite big and offers 39 seats of both table and counter style. Once you get inside, use the automatic machine right at the entrance to get your Ramen ticket and pick a seat. Although there are a couple of Bankararamen shops around Tokyo, the Ikebukuro shop is considered the best and most authentic of all. The shop is specialized in Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen which is a pork based Ramen served in thick Shoyu flavored soup and pork slices over seaweeds. Bankararamen Ramen has a very strong Shoyu taste which is accented by the large amount of oil the soup is made of. The noodles are quite thick and round and fit very well with the thick type soup. The shop is also offering all sort of Gyoza types and fresh vegetable side dishes.
- Name: Bankararamen
- Address: 1-13-10 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3988-2633
- Access: Take the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Ikebukuro Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 5:30am
11. Ichiran – Roppongi
Ichiran is quite famous Japanese Ramen chain shop which was established in Japan in the 1960’s and over the years expanded its operations all around Asia. Ichiran has a few Tokyo branches and the Roppongi branch is one of the best places to get Ramen in the entertainment district of Tokyo. The place is located on the second floor of the building and it is easily recognized but he large red sign just over the building entrance. The shop is quite big and offers 30 seats. Ichiran Ramen is specialized in Tonkotsu Ramen and its special mark is the original red sauce which you will find at the center of the Ramen dish. This sauce is a red pepper based sauce mixed with 30 different kinds of spices and coocked slowly for days to get that special flavor! There are only 3 people in Ichran restaurants who knows the secret of this sauce making and those people are the ones who create the sauce for over 50 years! The noodles are also made by Ichiran chain and is always served with generous slices of pork and green onions.
- Name: Ichiran
- Address: 4-11-11 Roppongi Minato Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3796-7281
- Access: Take the Toei Oedo Line or the Hibiya Line and get off in Roppongi Station
- Opening hour: 11am – 6am
- Website: http://www.ichiran.co.jp
12. Motenashi Kuroki – Akihabara
Motenashi Kuroki Ramen shop is located in the heart of Akihabara District right between Akihabara JR Station and Asakusabashi Subway Station. It is a small shop offers 13 total seats and is usually quite full. The place is named after its Chef, Naohito Kuroki, which invented that special Shio and Miso soup taste about 6 years ago. Kuroki’s recipes of ingredients are a secret but a close taste of the soup one can easily recognize the special taste of 6 different salts and three types of Miso blend! The chef also make the noodles by himself with its own mix of domestic flour with a small add on of whole wheat flour. But, – what people notice most is the topping! Kuroki’s Ramen is piled up with 2 days long simmered Chashu pork to give its Ramen the extra punch!
- Name: Motenashi Kuroki
- Address: 2-15 Kanda, Izumi-cho, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3863-7117
- Access: Take the JR Chuo Sobu Line and get off at Asakusabashi Station
- Opening hour: 11:30am – 3pm / 6pm – 9pm
13. Komen – Harajuku
Located in a small alley right in the heart of Harajuku, just off the plush shopping district of Omotesando is one of the hottest Ramen shops in Tokyo. Hot as in VERY hot! This Ramen shop is specialized in Tantame, which is a very spicy Ramen soup. You won’t miss the big red sign at the restaurant entrance right when you turn from Omotesando street. The menu includes “painful ramen of black sesame flavor” and “Szechuan Style Sesame” which are both thick broth with sesame paste that blended so well with the pork flavor broth. The color of the soup is almost black and make the red hot sauce been almost been invisible. The restaurant offers very cold wet towels for its customers for a very good reason, you will need it to wipe the cold sweat from your face as you taste the spicy Ramen, but have no fear, this is one of the best places to eat such Ramen in the very center of Harajuku!
- Name: Komen
- Address: 6-2-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-5468-6344
- Access: Take the Chiyoda Line and get off in Meiji-Jingumae Station
- Opening hour: 10:30am – 5:00am
- Website: http://www.kohmen.com/shop/harajuku.html
14. Ramen Thank – Daimon
Located right off Daimon Station near Ginza is one of the Ramen gems of the city. It is a small shop with 18 available table and counter seats. The shop offers a very unique and healthy additive-free potage-style soup, made of vegetables and chicken. This is one of the only places in Tokyo who pride themselves with health oriented Ramen soups and therefor, it is usually crowded. Expect to wait at the door for up to 30 minutes to wait for a seat but it will not be time wasted. Ramen Thank shop offers specialized Ramen dishes such as flavourful mild soup with noodles and excellent chashu wings dipped in curry spice to give this veggie ramen a special edge. You can also order Tsukemon if you like to dip the noodles at your leisure – both the Ramen and Tsukemon are extremely delicious!
- Name: Ramen Thank
- Address: 2-1-13 Shibadaimon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-5400-1350
- Access: Take the Toei Oedo Line and get off in Daimon Station
- Opening hour: 11:30am – 3pm / 6pm – 10pm
15. Tokyo Ramen Street – Tokyo Station
Located within the massive complex of Tokyo Station is one of the most unique concepts you can find in Tokyo, a Ramen street!
Since there are so many Ramen shops all over town, Tokyo Station decided to cramp 8 Ramen shops into one place and call it “Ramen Street”!
It is always busy so get ready to stand in line just like everyone else but have no worry, the wait is well worth the time! Since this is Tokyo main train station, almost any Subway and Train lines have a station there. The Ramen Street is located right at the Yaesu Underground Exit of Tokyo Station. The Ramen Street offers access to 8 selected Ramen shops: Rokurinsha Tokyo, Hirugao, Ramen Mutsumiya, Keisuke Kitanosho, Tokyo Station Ikaruga, Honda, Junk Garage, and Shichisai/Tokyo Edoama. If you want to find in one place a full selection of different Ramen types, Tokyo Ramen Street is the best place to do so!
- Name: Tokyo Ramen Street
- Address: 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chyoda-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3286-0166
- Access: Take the JR Yamanote Line and get off in Tokyo Station
- Opening hour: 7:30am – 10am / 11am – 10pm
Have a good trip and travel!