After 24 months and at least 27 recorded individual Ramen shops, the following are my favorite picks. It should be noted that there are three basic types of ramen – miso, soy and salt based. I prefer Miso based (both spicy and non-spicy). This list reflects that overall taste preference. I definitely do not particularly enjoy soy based ramen as I find it too sweet.
- Ichiran Ramen – Turns out this is a chain and it took me over 18 months to try. I am torn whether it is #1 or #2 but I think based on ease of access and not having to wait 2 hours, it is #1. My ramen tasting partner puts it at number 2 because she doesn’t like the egg as much as Nakiryu which she says has the best egg ever. I don’t eat the egg. I was disappointed they didn’t have coke which I love to treat myself with a good bowl of ramen. But we both love the flavor and depth of the broth. The noodles were perfect and you can tailor your dish to your level of spice and with extra onions (yes), garlic (yes x2), mushrooms, and/or seaweed. They also have a no pork option. (If going to the one in Shinjuku take the south concourse exit)
- Nakiryu – This is one of two Michelin Star ramen locations in Tokyo. As I mentioned before, everything is just a step up in quality. The noodles are perfectly firm and the flavors come together.
- Hiiragi Ramen in Nagasaki is a close third. The flavors were delicious and the eggplant was amazing!
- Yokohama Iekei Ramen is also a chain and conveniently only a 10 minute walk from my house. It felt sloppy that this was my favorite for such a long time, but after a wide sampling of both chains as well as mom & pop locations, it still makes the top 5.
- Ippudo Ramen – This is another chain and the first 3 or 4 times I ate here was while waiting for a flight at Narita. But when creating a list of ramen places to try for my last year in country, I realized it is the same place. While I like the one at Narita, the ones I tried in Tokyo are much better.
- Kumamoto “Komuraskaki” ramen at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen museum
- Hacchan Ramen from Fukuoko
Ramen is a pretty particular taste. They are all different! Good luck finding your favorite!
I’d like to give a special shout out to Jennie Metzler who was my ramen tasting partner. We had some good times experimenting!