Saturday, February 3, 2018

Delicious Tokyo Ramen at Ippudo, Ichiran, Chiyogami, Kamukura, and Soranoiro Nippon

Whenever I visit Tokyo, I always try to eat ramen as much as possible.  On this last trip I revisited some favourite ramen restaurants and tried some new ones.  I never manage to have as much ramen as I would like as I also want to eat other kinds of Japanese food, but its all delicious so there is no sadness to the experience!

Ippudo in Ginza
Ippudo has always been a favourite for Tonkotsu ramen.  The broths are not too thick and have lots of flavour.  They have numerous branches and are a little unique as they have a lot of seating at long communal tables.  They've also improved the decor to make it look more modern with cool looking walls decorated with discs of dried ramen.
Outside their Ginza location.  We got lucky and basically just walked right in that night.
Tasty tonkotsu ramen with a glass of cold tea.  Also had a plate of their little miniature dumplings.

Ichiran in Shimbashi
Famous for their really tasty tonkotsu ramen and the unique private dining experience they offer.  We went to the one in Shimbashi.  When we arrived there was a short wait going down the stairs to the basement restaurant, but it went by quickly.  Ichiran is a model of noodle efficiency that respects your privacy.  You put your money into the machine, press the buttons to order food you want (soup type and toppings), then pick up your order tickets and change.  A host or hostess will then give you a form to customize your ordered soup for the level of spiciness and the firmness of the noodles.  Pick the top left button on the machine for the house special  if you're not sure what to get.  Once you are done all this, a electronic wall mounted sign will direct you to the seats that are open.
Entrance to Ichiran Shimbashi
Ichiran ramen ordering machine.
Ichirans are organized with rows of booth around a central food preparation area.  The kitchen and staff are in the middle, while the customers are seated in individual booths the size of a study booth in school.  In the booth is a tap to get cold water and cups along with your dining utensils.  You place your order ticket down on the table along with your customization form.  A few moments later, a staffer will raise the bamboo curtain at the back of the booth to take your order then close the curtain again.  A few minutes after this happens, the curtain will raise again, and a pair of hands will place your ramen order on the table.  The curtain closes again so you can focus on eating and tasting the ramen in peace and privacy.  It is a solitary dining experience that is all about the food, not the people you came with.  The noodles are also very good and the soup is excellent, so give it a try when you are in Tokyo.
A booth up close.
My tasty tonkotsu ramen with just a mild amount of hot sauce.  I ordered an extra egg too!
Yummy ramen.

Chiyogami
One evening, we hit Tokyo Station Ramen Street for a meal.  I always kind of find it hard to choose places to eat here as they are all pretty good.  Hard to have a bowl of ramen you don't like and like ten shops to choose from.   We ended up at Chiyogami as their ramen soup just appealed to us that night.  They make a shio (soy / salt) ramen with a clear broth and it is a pretty traditional bowl of ramen soup.  They call it chuka-soba (as in Chinese noodles - not buckwheat soba noodles) and it was a pretty good bowl of soup.
Chiyogami sign.
Some nice looking photos of ramen soup out front.  You get a more classic noodle soup without some weird ingredients or twist.
Their ordering machine.  Put your money in first, then select what you want to each with the buttons.
You got a very tasty ramen noodle soup.  I often order extra ramen egg as I really like them.
Nicely presented soup with big slices of charshu and the eggs around the edge with a light garnish of vegetables and nori.

Kamukura Ramen in Shibuya
This is a restaurant that is part of a chain from Osaka.  It is located right on Center Gai in Shibuya and is a big silvery building on the outside.  I have walked by it before, but had never tried it.  This time, I was in Shibuya for some evening shopping and I dropped in.  Boy was I ever glad I tried this place.  I think they have a really delicious broth and they give you lots of vegetables too.

The restaurant is very open with an open kitchen that has a counter that runs all the way around.  They specialize in shoyu (soy sauce) ramen which is a lighter broth than tonkotsu or miso.  Their particular recipe is a secret broth with chicken stock, vegetable stock, and soy stock. 
Their outside signage.

Big outdoor sign with all of their soups and toppings.  It sure looks good.
Their ordering machine.  I had a bowl of their regular soup with a side of rice and gyoza.
My really tasty dinner.
The ramen I ordered came with nice chewy noodles - not the thin type - with three types of chashu (pork) and came with lots of diced choy (greens), and onions.  The different kinds of pork were tender and full of flavour too.  The broth was amazing as it was so savory and tasty for a clear broth that isn't thickened.  I easily polished off the rice and gyoza too.  I am definitely eating here again.
My bowl of ramen that will only live on in my memories and this picture.

Soranoiro Nippon
While I didn't visit any Michelin starred ramen shops this trip, my last bowl of ramen in Tokyo was another from Tokyo Station Ramen Street.  After visiting the Imperial Palace East Gardens, I was starving in the afternoon.  I walked to the nearby Tokyo Station and went to Ramen Street which wasn't that crowded in the middle of the afternoon.  I looked at a few shops then settled on Soranoirao Nippon which looked like it had a nice friendly open vibe in the seating area.  The ramen looked good too of course.

This restaurant offers Tokyo style ramen and also has vegan options.  They are a creative restaurant that actually is more famous than I realized.  The interior decor of the shop is very modern and complements their progressive menu.  The shop had a Bib Gourmand mention in the Michelin Guide.  While I didn't try their vegetarian options, they are supposed to be quite good.

Restaurant Signage.
Their ordering machine.

My last bowl of ramen in Tokyo.  It was off to the airport this evening.
My shoyu ramen was a dark, clear broth that was packed full of flavour again and was just delicious.  I'm starting to like these kinds of broths more than tonkotsu now as they have more bang and directness to the taste buds when done right.  The toppings to the ramen were soft boiled soy marinated egg, naruto, green onions, pork and chicken charshu, menma (bamboo shoots), and nori.  The bowl was tasty, but light as I was hungry later in the evening again.  Sometimes this isn't a bad thing as it just means you get to eat more tasty Japanese food!

Closeup of my ramen bowl.  Looks great!

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