Ramen is my husband’s favourite Japanese food. In Japan there are so many ramen restaurants. Although every year new ramen restaurants are born, more number of ramen restaurants are closed as well. Because running ramen restaurant are very competitive, each chef has their own style to make their business special. So if you really like ramen, maybe it is fun to visit some restaurants and compare them.
Our favourite outstanding ramen restaurant in Tokyo is 一蔵 (Ichizo). Closest JR station is Koenji station on Chuoh line. Walk down about 100m along the main street on South side of station. Turn left the corner and you will find one (Although you can easily find the restaurant if you watch out carefully everytime you pass the corners). If you are lost, ask people around you to help you. I think everyone in that town knows that restaurant. The restaurant is very small and there are only several seats inside. The restaurant is very popular and have many regulars. The atmosphere is very welcomed and after you finish your ramen, the chef will give you a ticket which will give you a free topping next time.
The hardest part to go to ramen restaurants for you, maybe, is that sometimes you have to get the tickets first.Usually ticket machine with many options is outside and there is no one to explain what each buttons mean. I heard that some foreign people chose just topping and chef told them to buy ramen tickets! (I know that is not kind at all!) So to help you, I will explain the meaning of Japanese letters used for menu here.
There are some flavours of ramen (ramen can be spelled ラーメン or らーめん or 拉麺 or 中華麺).
- Miso (味噌 or みそ）
- Soy sauce (醤油 or しょうゆ)
- Pork stock (豚骨 or とんこつ)
- Salty (塩 or しお)
- Fishy (魚介)
- If it says 辛, that means hot(spicy). At Ichizo, hot miso ramen had original name as 赤鬼ラーメン. In these case, do not hesitate to ask someone inside/outside the restaurant.
These are example of main toppings.
- Vegetables (野菜)
- Seasoned egg (煮卵・煮玉子・煮たまご)
- Raw egg (生卵・生玉子・生たまご)
- Bamboo (メンマ・めんま・しなちく)
- Spring onion (ねぎ・ネギ)
- Beans sprout (もやし)
- Pork (焼豚・叉焼・チャーシュー)
- Sticky rice (白ごはん・白米・白飯)
These are example of noodles options.
- Thick (太麺)
- Thin (細麺)
- Straight (ストレート麺)
- Not straight (ちぢれ麺)
- Hard (硬麺・かた麺)
- If it says ばり or 極, that means “extremely”.
Now you do not have to worry about unkind Japanese ramen restaurant’s ticket system. I hope you will find your favourite restaurant and style! xx