Step down into Shinagawa’s very own ramen street, with seven experts offering bowls of pure deliciousness, ranging from black miso to spicy Mongolian: the perfect spot for ramen lovers on their travels.
The seven restaurants each have their own speciality and are well worth trying, meaning you might be making more than one stop at Shinagawa—but since it is a busy station with 15 lines running through, it’s never difficult to get to. You simply take the Takanawa Exit and turn left, and within 200m it will be down the lower-set alley with plenty of signs making it hard to miss—not to mention the delicious smells! There are plenty of signs (although mostly in Japanese) to indicate which shop is which, along with a few non-ramen options too (the bottom row).
Now before you suggest that this might just be seven ramen shops casually found in close proximity—this is a real thing. Along the alley is a gift shop selling all their ramen wares, and if that doesn’t scream legitimacy, then frankly I don’t know what does. The shop is located between restaurants two and three, so keep an eye out if you need souvenirs.
Similar to the popular Ramen Street of Tokyo Station, this place has some of the best quality ramen in the city, all within meters of each other and hard to choose from! While queues at lunch and dinner can be long for certain shops (Mongolican ramen especially, we found) they’re not impossible, and might help you out with some of the decision-making. To help you on your way, here’s a taste of what’s on offer:
1. Nantsuttei: Award-winning tonkotsu with black garlic
The 3-time champion of the Ramen of the Year competition for tonkotsu, here there is no shame in heading into the first ramen joint you see (if it’s Nantsuttei). The main store of the Kanagawa-born owner, Ichiro Furuya is in Hatano, but here his shop is the welcoming sight as you step down into ramen street, and even if you walk past it to explore, you may well find yourself coming back to it at the end. The tonkotsu has black roasted garlic oil (ma-yu) which is made by frying garlic over seven phases before mixing the blend to create a perfect partner to the creamy tonkotsu broth.
2. Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto: Super spicy miso
With ramen as good as the backstory to their creation, the lines at Mouko Tanmen are well deserved. Originally a Chinese restaurant many moons ago, discovering the secret of the delicious spicy ramen was the goal of double-decade loyal customer Makoto Shirane. When the restaurant closed due to the owners ill health, he visited every day to ask for the secret and after a year, was finally granted it. He now runs a ramen shop in the original spot, as well as ten others across Tokyo. The spicy miso ramen is full of stir-fried veg, pork and options for very spicy mabu tofu. Chili pepper is available to spice it up further if needed, so you definitely won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for a kick.
3. Setagaya: First of the two-crop model
Promoter of the two-crops model, owner Tsukasa Maejima has multiple restaurants across Tokyo, effectively running two separate ramen shops in each. The lunch crowd receives a carefully perfected salt broth under the name Hirugao, and the evening crowd can enjoy a fish and soy-sauce broth under the name Setagaya. Here you can enjoy plenty of options, from ramen to tsukemen (dipping ramen) to the chef’s specialty of Chinese cloud noodles.
Closes: 11pm except Sundays
4. Kibi: The lightest ramen on the street
Aiming to preserve the traditional flavor and technique of shina soba (Chinese soba), Kibi has some of the lightest shoyu ramen on the street, so if you don’t want anything too heavy this is a great shout. The owner, Yasuyuki Watanabe, left Tokyo aged 16 to study the art of shina soba in Okayama prefecture, and it paid off. The impressively clear broth has simple toppings and lets the quality shine through. You can choose from ramen or tsukemen with interesting options like plum salt ramen!
Closes: 11pm, except for Sunday and Monday
5. Menya Sho: Another split-menu offering
A second restaurant with different daytime/nighttime menus, Menya Sho offers salt and miso respectively. The daytime broth is light and very clear, with their tsukemen winning 1st prize at the Tsukemen Expo in 2015. The miso ramen is a darker, heavier affair with a thicker Sapporo-style soup that will make your long day melt away. Whichever you opt for, you won’t be disappointed, as owner Nozomi Ohashi has dedicated himself to the perfection of both dishes over the years.
6. Tetsu: Tokyo-famous tsukemen
A well-known name in Tokyo, Tetsu commands long queues, but the tsukemen is worth the wait. While they do offer ramen, this is definitely a great chance to try some top-quality tsukemen with a novel twist. When you’re slurping your way through your rich broth, dipping the noodles as you go, following the handy instruction guide if needed, it might get a little cold. They have a great system though—you simply signal to staff and they will bring a hot stone to place in your soup, warming it right up again! Aside from novelty though, the ramen, tsukemen and especially the tantan tsukemen are truly delicious, and all down to the hard work of Ittetsu Komiya who self-studied while working as a salaryman.
7. Keisuke: Black miso and plenty of creativity
Last but most definitely not least, Keisuke offers the most unique ramen on the strip: bowls filled with black miso and bamboo charcoal broth, piled high with melt-in-the-mouth pork. Considered a revolution in ramen, the black miso flavor took a long while to perfect, but was worth every second. The shrimp miso adds an extra layer of complexity to the flavor combinations and really brings out the bamboo- and chicken-based broth. With Chinese influences and stir-fried veg, there is no sticking to a single tradition here, and all the better for it.
If you don’t find yourself in Shinagawa or didn’t get to try them all, they have a mini Shinatatsu in Haneda Airport with three more ramen shops to choose from! You can enjoy miso ramen at Shinsen, umami tonkotsu at Waraibuta or Fukumi’s Chinese chicken ramen.
Tokyo flea markets are a great for bargain-hunting, pick up a new kimono or snag a new book on a shoestring!