Tokyo's best ramen-ya
If you like places that give old dishes a burst of new life with fresh interpretations, follow Ramen Adventures founder Brian MacDuckston one day, down to Kururi. Its innovative twists on miso ramen mark it out as a place that really thinks about its food.
After being awarded countless accolades, it has risen to the top on many people's lists, including MacDuckston's.
“They use different types of miso paste, fried with fresh vegetables and added to the broth, creating a wonderfully rich soup with a lot of impact,” he says.
Expect to wait in line for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Miso ramen here is ¥700.
Open Monday - Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Kururi, 3-2 Ichigaya Tamachi, Shinjuku-ku, tel. +81 (0) 3 3269 0801, www.men-kururi.jp
Open daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Kururi, 3-70-1 Minami Koenji, Suginami-ku, tel. +81 (0) 3 3338 6611, www.men-kururi.jp
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“For a creamy tonkotsu soup, made by simmering pork bones for hours on end, check out Bassanova in Shindaita,” says ramen expert Brian MacDuckston.
A history of collaborations with other shops, including a Thai chef, has resulted in some intriguing options on the menu.
The most popular dish at this ramen shop is the green curry ramen at ¥850, but the staff at Bassanova are just as good a reason to head here. “Los Angeles native Keizo Shimamoto loves chatting about the crazy life of a ramen chef,” MacDuckston says.
Open Monday - Friday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, noon-2 a.m. Bassanova, 1-4-18 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku,
tel. +81 (0) 3 3327 4649
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If you could only visit one of the thousands of ramen-ya in Tokyo, Harukiya in Ogikubo should be it.
“This is considered the original Tokyo-style ramen,” says ramen expert Brian MacDuckston.
Tokyo-style means traditional shoyu soup supplemented with a good amount of dried fish, usually bonito flakes and whole dried sardines. But don't ask for the recipe.
"The exact amounts of fish, as well as the rest of the ingredients, have remained a guarded secret for the greater part of the last hundred years,” says MacDuckston.
The place seats just eight customers. The staff is noisy and welcoming. The air is steamy and aromatic. The menu is simple. It's exactly how a ramen shop should be.
The pricey wonton-men (wonton ramen, ¥1,200) are worth every yen. Other options include basic Chuka-soba (Chinese soba, ¥800) and fully loaded Omori chashu wonton-men (Omori barbecue pork wonton ramen, ¥1,900), which includes extra noodles, extra pork, and plenty of the shop's famous wontons.
To find Harukiya, exit to the north of Ogikubo station on the JR Chuo or Maranouchi subway line. Walk one block east along the main road. Look for the line of hungry customers. “When in doubt, ask a local for help. Nine out of 10 know exactly where it is,” says MacDuckston.
Open Monday - Saturday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Harukiya, 1-4-6 Ueogi, Suginami-ku, tel. +81 (0) 3 3391 4868, www.haruki-ya.co.jp
Open daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Wednesday. Harukiya, 2-14-1 Honmachi, Kichijoji, Musashino-shi, tel. +81 (0)4 2220 5185, www.haruki-ya.co.jp