We recently spent a week in Tokyo and one of the things that we had been looking forward to the most was tasting all of the delicious ramen that Tokyo had to offer. Before going to Tokyo we had spent months planning ahead by doing a lot of research online. We wanted to make sure that the food we had in Japan was the best that we could get. After having spent months putting all of these restaurants into spreadsheets, and discussing back and forth which ones we wanted to eat at during out 7 days in Tokyo, we decided on a strategy that focused on having ramen for lunch on most days and having more elaborate dinners in the evening.
The plan turned out perfect. As we were seeing different parts of Tokyo every day we made sure to find the best ramen place in all the various neighbourhoods so that we could have a cheap, hearty meal for lunch. One thing that we found about Tokyo ramen places was that the longer the queue is in front of a ramen place - the better the ramen. Most of the places we had to way between 20-40 minutes to sit down and enjoy a bowl of ramen, so factor in some extra time when going out for lunch (it's usually worth waiting for!)
Tokyo is a city full of ramen places, so finding the best was a somewhat daunting task and everybody online seemed to have their own local favourite. We went to 8 of the ramen places that we had read were 'the best in Tokyo'.
Ramen really is somewhat of a science and there are an endless amount of variations when it comes to cooking ramen. The ramen broths can be made in a bunch of different ways. These are the most common broths that you'll come by:
- Shoyu - Mainly a soy sauce based soup
- Shio - Usually light - uses salt
- Tonkotsu - Creamy smooth pork soup
- Miso - Miso paste is blended into the soup
- Tsukemen - Dipping noodles
our 5 favourite ramen restaurants in Tokyo
Ichiran: There a couple of Ichiran locations around town. Ichiran is one of Tokyo's favourite ramen places, so expect to wait in line for at least 30 minutes during lunch/dinner hours. You order your meal through a vending machine and then get seated in small booths in the restaurant. Going here was a really fun experience and the ramen were perfect. Ichiran specializes in tonkotsu ramen, which is a pork bone broth.
Gogyo: We went to Gogyo in Kyoto as well as in Tokyo, which is how good it was. Gogyo is known for their burnt miso and burnt soy ramen, which has a quite different taste to many traditional ramen places in Japan. This was Elin's favourite ramen place in Japan, so definitely worth a visit.
Menya Musashi: During our last days in Tokyo we were staying in Shinjuku and we heard that Musashi served up the best ramen in the neighbourhood. In contrast to many other ramen places that we visited the atmosphere here was more like a restaurant. You order through vending machines, but the dark interior created a really cozy atmosphere and they were playing some great jazz music. This was Oliver's favorite ramen place in Tokyo.
Tokyo Ramen Street: Situated downstairs in Tokyo Station there is now a special area dedicated to travellers who want something quick and tasty. We decided to go to Rokurinsha, which we heard was the best ramen place in Tokyo. They specialize in dipping noodles. You get a think broth that you dip your noodles into and then you just start slurping away. There are plenty of good places on Tokyo Ramen Street, so look around and see what kind of ramen style suits your taste.
Menya Ittou: Menya Itto is known for having the best tasting ramen and tsukemen in Tokyo. The shop is popular for its signature dish, Seafood Tsukemen, which features homemade chewy noodles and a rich seafood soup. Just like at Rokurinsha these are dipping noodles, so expect a whole lot of slurping going on.