Many travelers come to Japan with a list of restaurants they want to try and there truly is no place like Japan for foodies. In this feature, we talk about a few popular and unique ramen restaurants as listed in the Top 100 Tokyo Ramen Restaurants by Tabelog, a popular restaurant reviewing website in Japan.
There are many styles of ramen and these days, you can even find some with a modern, western twist including vegan options.
Since it is difficult to compare all the styles, we chose to focus on Kombusui Tsukemen. Kombu is kelp, sui is water; kombusui refers to kelp-flavored broth. Tsukemen usually refers to serving noodles and soup separately i.e. you dip the noodles in the accompanying broth. Kombusui Tsukemen is not too rich in flavor, low in fat making it popular among men and women.
Ramen Sukoyaka (ラーメン健やか)
Ramen Sukoyaka (ラーメン健やか) is located at a five-minute walk from Mitaka Station, well known for the Ghibli Museum, on the Chuo line. Although this area is relatively quiet compared to the rest of Tokyo, this restaurant has a steady stream of customers.
This is the Kombusui Tsukemen here. A bowl of soup, a bowl of noodles in kelp-flavored broth, pork and chicken chashu, and salt. Are you confused about how to eat this?
The beautiful presentation of glistening, perfectly cooked noodles matches with the taste: slightly chewy and full of flavor.
The chicken and pork are both tender and sweet. If you’re not a fan of fat in your meat, this is a great place to try chashu. Soft and delicious, the meat just melts in your mouth.
What do you think the salt is for?
The answer is that it is used for the noodles. This ramen set can be eaten in a variety of ways, the flavor changes based on how you eat it. Adding salt is one such way to experience a different taste. Enjoy the delicious flavor of noodles without dipping it in the sauce and savor the taste and aroma of the mineral-rich kelp soup.
The dipping soup is what the restaurant is probably most proud of; it has pork that has been simmered for a long time enhancing the flavor of the soup.
The soup isn’t too salty, as the noodles are already in a broth.
Perfectly boiled eggs, that are a little runny and an interlude from the richness of the broth.
The original ramen here is also famous; made using shellfish, the soup has an intense seafood flavor.
Uchoku is Tokyo’s No.1 Kombusui Tsukemen restaurant. It is about a 7-minute walk from Ogikubo Station on the Chuo line. Don’t be surprised at the long line of people waiting; even on weekdays, it can take up to 50 minutes to get in.
After a long wait, we finally get to taste the most popular Kombusui Tsukemen. The noodles are springy yet soft with a beautiful flavor.
When dipped in the kombu broth, the aroma enhances even more.
Dip your noodles and swish them. Each bite will be have an umami kick without being too greasy or intense.
The pork chashu is very soft and sweet.
The noodles are freshly made in the restaurant daily and are low in calories. It is probably the reason it is so popular among women.
There are instructions on how to get the most bang for your buck in terms of flavor. Add the broth to the dipping soup or vice versa and enjoy until the last drop.
CLAM & BONITO 貝節麺 RAIK
Our final pick is a seafood broth ramen restaurant. This shop is located at Honancho Station on the Marunouchi Line. You wouldn’t expect to find a delicious ramen restaurant in a residential area like this one.
Unfortunately, when we visited the restaurant, the Kombusui Tsukemen were not being served and we had to try the regular ramen instead.
The broth is made using clams and other seafood. It is extremely fragrant, and the broth is topped different kinds of seaweed. It is quite unusual to find seafood ramen even though its now gaining popularity.
The noodles are soft, smooth, and easy to eat, not too heavy like those at Uchoku. They go really well with the clam soup.
It is a clear soup ramen, low in fat and full of nutrients, so even girls can eat it without worrying about weight.
In the bowl, there are sea urchin eggs that are added to add the aroma of the sea.
The half-boiled egg rounds off the dish well. Personally, its one of our favorite places to enjoy ramen.
The tsukemen is only available in summer! Check out how the dish looks below.
Are you curious to try out Kombusui Tsukemen? Add these to your itinerary especially if you plan to visit Tokyo in summer.
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