Besides missing the sights, sounds, people, and atmosphere in Japan, I believe food is what I’ll miss the most. During my two-weeks in Japan, there was never a bad meal from the cities I’ve visited (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka). Every meal, from the expensive marbled steaks and sushi, to the cheap convenience store sandwiches and even American hamburgers were satisfying. As someone once said “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” I can easily say food in Japan has definitely found my heart. These series of articles will highlight some of the foods I’ve eaten in Japan.
Ramen, one of Japan’s most popular dishes is by far one of the many things I’ve missed since visiting. Almost every day during my two-week adventure in Japan included a bowl of ramen. My cousin kept asking me during the trip “do you ever get tired of ramen?” which I replied “never!” It’s only because I knew when I’m back in the States, I won’t have the opportunity to eat authentic ramen for a while. The price for ramen averages ¥800-900, which is significantly cheaper than ramen shops in the United States. Expect to pay upwards of $15-20 for Japanese ramen in the States. So it’s a great opportunity for enjoying authentic ramen without breaking the bank.
A fellow Odigoer has provided a guide to the different types of ramen you’ll encounter, and I highly suggest reading it to get a good idea of all the ramen Japan has to offer. Regardless, any bowl of ramen in Japan is worth trying. Here are some ramen shops I’ve tried during my adventures.
After being up for about 23 hours straight from all the traveling, this is the first meal I had in Japan. It was recommended from the very first friend I made in Japan. This bowl set a pretty good impression of what I am to expect from all the restaurants that I’ll soon visit. It offers a good amount of noodles, sliced roasted pork, and the semi-hardboiled egg. Price was good, costing about ¥830 (about $7.50 US). Ippudo Ramen is a rather small, but lively place, with workers endlessly walking about serving up bowls. This was also the first time I experienced Japanese customer service, and all I can say is they do it right. From the very second I entered the store, I was greeted with a smile and a bow, until it was time to leave, they waved goodbye and also another bow. It was absolutely a culture-shock to see how employees treat customers, even if they are foreigners. This is a must try place!
Kyurin Ramen Odaiba
Address: 〒135-0064 Tōkyō-to, Kōtō-ku, Aomi, 1 Chome−1, 青海1-1-10 ダイバーシティ東京プラザ 2F DiverCity Tokyo Plaza
Located in the Diver City shopping center of Odaiba, Kyurin ramen was the first time I tried “dip ramen.” The main difference is that the noodles and broth are separate from each other, with the broth being more concentrated than a traditional bowl. I think what amazed me the most was the quality of food and service I got from a shopping center, all at the cost of about ¥800 ($7 US). In the US, most shopping centers use disposable plates and bowls, but at this ramen shop, I was given ceramic bowls for the noodles and broth. Granted, after finishing the meal, they have a return window to give back the serving equipment, which is no hassle at all. The overall experience here was very good, noodles were perfect and the broth was very flavorful. They offer lots of different options to choose from, so you can customize your bowl however you want. “Mall” food won’t ever be the same!
Address: 〒530-0041, 7 Chome-5-23 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 530-0041, Japan
This restaurant was near my AirBnb house, about a 2-minute walk. This place looked pretty new compared to the other ramen places I went. And was convenient to order. Near the entrance is a ticket machine, where you select your order with all the toppings, sides, and extras you want in the bowl. After that, you hand the ticket to the chef and relax and watch them prep your bowl. It’s surprising fast service with only two workers present. At ¥850 a bowl ($7.60 US), the portions are very good, well enough to satisfy my hunger, and the broth was distinctively fishy (not in a bad way), which I guess anchovies was the base ingredient of the broth. Overall very good, although I hear recently that this place has closed permanently, which is a shame for a good bowl of ramen.
Address: 2 Chome-21 Kanda Sudacho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0041, Japan
Located right next to the famous anime haven Akihabara, this large building houses many different kinds of restaurants. The ramen shop is on the bottom floor. Here I was able to try “Tonkatsu” (fried pork) ramen for the price of ¥850. Instead of the usual pork loin, this shop uses deep fried pork cuts. They offer two sizes, at the time, I didn’t know, but large and regular sizes are offered. Similar to the ramen shop in Osaka, there is a ticket machine to customize your order. Overall it’s a great place to get some energy before shopping in Akihabara, and since it’s on the outskirts, the traffic isn’t too bad.
Grab a Bowl!
Being that my visit was in October, it’s a good time for ramen as the temperatures begin to drop. Ramen is a staple food in Japan. Almost every shopping district in the Tokyo metropolitan area will have shops easily accessible to locals and travelers alike. There are lots of chain restaurants in the Tokyo area, but many ramen places are small mom and pop shops, which feel more inviting because you’re right next to the chef all the time. So head on out there, and slurp away!
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