Forget the list. This tsuekemen beats the top ranking one

Whenever I tell friends that THE best tsukemen they'll ever have is at Tsujita, they try to take me to a different ramen or tsukemen restaurant that they think will beat Tsujita. One friend took me to Tokyo Station's Ramen Street and we had to line up in the cold to get to this crowded restaurant that featured a hot stone dropped into your soup bowl.  Another friend looked up an online list of the best ramen and tsukemen restaurants and took me to one ranked first.  We planned to have dinner there but we had to line up at 4 p.m. in fear that the restaurant will run out of soup. In the end, everyone conceded: yes, you're right Tsujita has THE best tsukemen in Tokyo, in Japan, possibly the world.

I first discovered Tsujita as it was near my workplace (Iidabashi Station). There was almost always a long line outside. Long lines, by rule of thumb, generally means that a place is good, but there have been occasions when there were long lines ending up at a really bad place. We suspect that either these lines were peopled with first time customers, or they may be repeat customers doubting their own taste buds, trying to make sense of why people are lining up at such a crappy joint so they have to try it again, and again.

Needless to say, one afternoon, there was no line outside Tsujita and I haven't had my lunch yet so I thought, now's my chance. I ordered the first thing on their menu, the Tsujita tsukemen. I was intrigued by the half slice of citrus perched on top of the noodles. First thing I tried was the soup/dipping sauce. I have never tasted anything like it before. Strong and deep in flavor with a touch of smokiness, I was almost happy to have this thick soup alone.  You could taste the perfect combination of meat and fish. The tender chashu (meat slices typically topping a bowl of ramen) is chopped up, mixed into the soup.

Next the noodles. Thicker than regular ramen noodles, Tsujita's tsukemen noodles are scrumptiously chewy, and with absolutely no danger of it getting too soggy in hot ramen soup as it sits separately. The thick noodles grab the sauce better.

The tsukemen eating instructions posted on the table recommend that you squeeze the citrus halfway through the meal. I followed the instructions to the letter. What was already a divine gastronomic experience was elevated to a higher level. The citrus gave the dish a refreshing kick. There is good reason why they recommend it halfway through your bowl. It's when our tastebuds start to acclimate to the flavors of the dish (if you remember the law of diminishing returns from your economics class).

I now live 2 hours away from the nearest Tsujita restaurant and I would gladly travel as far to satisfy my craving for tsukemen.
THE best tsukemen you will ever have

The Awajicho Branch

Sherilyn Siy