Ramen may be Japan’s fast food, but sometimes you want to slow things down a little. Seven minutes may be the goal for making sure your noodles stay firm, but that’s no time for a chat.
If you’re looking for dinner with a friend and craving ramen, but not in the mood to slurp and run, then Kugatsudo is the ramen joint for you. Styled more like a cafe than your usual counter-based shop, here you can order delicious ramen, relax and catch up without the evil eye of counter staff if you so much as linger. There’s even a dessert menu to appease your sweet tooth and sofas to relax on—so it’s basically perfect.
Hidden away in the trendy Jinnan area of Shibuya, Kugatsudo is only a 10-minute walk from the station. Surrounded by quiet cafes and hipster shops, it’s no wonder the leisurely attitude of the area has rubbed off on this restaurant. Up on the second floor, you’ll be greeted by the bright and airy room, with simple decor and a fresh feel—a far more pleasant setting than usual. There’s still the usual ramen vending machine to order from, with some English available, there’s also an English menu staff can give you if you need more time to order.
The best value has to be the lunch sets, which include either ramen or tsukemen with fried rice or a dessert, all for 930 yen. You can choose from around 7 ramen/tsukemen options, including the seasonal ramen, and a choice of six desserts. The menu can look a bit confusing, but the staff are friendly and will help you fill out the form that comes with it. With choices like yuzu (a Japanese citrus) ice cream and a cherry blossom parfait, dessert is definitely no afterthought and comes prettily presented too. There are sets going up to 1,140 yen, so if you’re starving and making a decision between rice or dessert is too tortuous, you can have both. After ordering, you can just sit back and relax.
Using only natural flavorings and ingredients, the ramen at Kugatsudo is fresh and delicious, and definitely doesn’t miss out from having no MSG in the mix. They use a double broth (seafood and meat flavors) and create a delicate but filling bowl of ramen that won’t leave you hungry (but hopefully with a little room for dessert). We had the ‘luxurious ramen’ and the seasonal option, which was tantanmen with cheese. Both were completely delicious, and initial food envy when the tantanmen arrived first was soon waylaid.
After finishing up our ramen, dessert was served and was just the right balance of sweet and fresh to not put us into a food coma, and was pretty to boot. After lunch you can enjoy coffee, people-watch if you’re by the windows or just relax. The staff don’t hurry you out, and the space feels permanently like a Sunday afternoon.
The most adorable place in Japan.