Whether you’re staying nearby, just arrived in Tokyo or are heading out of town, there’s nothing like a steaming bowl of ramen to perk you up. And with eight of the best spots in the city all under one roof at Tokyo Station, life’s made easy—just head to the famous Tokyo Ramen Street.
Among the 100 shops and restaurants in the labyrinths beneath Tokyo Station, there is one special corner dedicated to ramen: Tokyo Ramen Street. Now, in a lot of countries, the train station is home to most people’s second-favorite burger chain and maybe a bakery, but in Japan, stations are the places to go for the best food in town. Therefore, when the station invited the best ramen shops in Tokyo to open up indoors, they all agreed immediately. Unfortunately, this also means there will be queues at whichever restaurant you choose, but just take it as a sign of quality. There has been some turnover since 2009 with four more stores joining the original four in 2011 and a couple changing since then, but change is good, afterall.
There are now a good mix of options, with specialities in the traditional types as well as some more contemporary styles too. Whether you’re new to ramen (in which case have a look at this handy infographic we made) or a connoisseur, there will be something new and worthy of your tastebuds. When ordering, most places have pictures of the ramen on their vending machines, so you can either go by photo, or compare with an English menu if available. Some even have #1 or most popular labels on, so you can always opt for that!
The website for Tokyo Station does have information, but only in Japanese. If you’re keen to prepare ahead, or want to make yourself really hungry, have a look at the restaurants below to get an idea about each one’s specialty.
There are also individual information posters around the street, with more English information about each restaurant as well as the procedure for ordering. Some restaurants prefer you to buy the ticket before joining the queue, and some vice versa, so check the signs outside each place (they’re hard to miss!)
So without further ado, here are the eight restaurants and all their specialties!
1. Rokurinsha: For good food and long queues
A tsukemen (a dipping noodle dish) restaurant where the rich pork and seafood broth is simmered for 13 hours to achieve a delicious and rich base for your noodles. It is by far the most popular in the station with queues snaking around the corner for most of the day. Opened by Ryosei Mita who studied under the creator of tsukemen (Kazuo Yamagishi), standards are high and so is demand. If you spot the queue and don’t fancy it, you can buy the ramen frozen from a stand across form the restaurant. The most recommended dish is the Tokusei Tsukemen at 1,050 yen. After you finish you can add broth to your bowl—and don’t worry, slurping straight from the bowl is perfectly acceptable! There are three other stores: one in Haneda Airport, one next to the Skytree and one in Osaki, if you aren’t near the station.
Hours: 7:30am – 10am (breakfast menu) 11am – 11pm (regular menu)
2. Oreshiki Jun: For the best tonkotsu in town
Considered a ‘rising star’ in the tonkotsu ramen world, Oreshiki Jun offers a deliciously rich broth and is part of the Setagaya Ramen group. You can choose the firmness of you noodle from 1-5, and they have a famous chili oil with 18 ingredients which can really lift the rich broth. Lots of other dishes are also available including curry, dumplings and rice bowls, in case you needed something more!
Hours: 10:30am – 11:30pm (LO. 11pm)
3. Tanmen Tonari – For your 5-a-day
Tokyo-style tanmen topped with 350g of stir-fried seasonal vegetables—so definitely the healthy option! This is the same amount as recommended per day by the Ministry of Health in Japan so you can have your cake and eat it (i.e. ramen and claim a healthy lifestyle!). Each bowl includes 10 different vegetables including bean sprouts, carrots and cabbage. They also have very popular karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken, not so healthy)—you can get the Tankara 880-yen set which has tanmen and karaage (saving you about 300 yen).
Hours: 10.30am – 11pm (L.O 10.30pm)
4. Ikaruga – For the unusual
Offering some of the more unusual ramen options, Ikaruga has a great variety of dishes to choose from. You might want to skip the simple ramen at 780 yen in favour of the Tokyo Station Ramen for 1,000 yen, or the All-In Ramen for 1,060 yen. There are spicy options, dipping noddles and a three-cheese maze-soba which is only available from 2pm onwards. It comes with a raw egg and is generously sprinkled with parmesan, reggiano and red cheddar—perfect if you want something unusual!
Hours: 10am – 11pm (L.O. 10:30pm)
5. Senmon Hirugao: For great shio ramen
Hirugao offers a delicate and fragrant shio (salt) ramen with Hokkaido noodles in a chicken and seafood broth. The broth is clear and the noodles are delicate and thin, without being too soft. The Special ramen comes with dumplings if you’re particularly hungry!
Hours: 10:30am – 11:30pm (L.O. 11pm)
6. Soranoiro Nippon – For Edo-style (with a vegan option)
Offering Edo-style chuka-soba (aka Chinese soba) along with vegan options, this is a great combination of creativity and tradition.The shop itself has a far more modern and stylish feel than others, with colorful prints and a nice lightness rarely found in ramen shops. The menu offers three vegan ramen options with a Vegan Bamboo Noodle dish, awarded a Bib Gourmand status by the Michelin Guide in 2015. There are also interesting chuka-soba options including an Okinawa-style shio ramen. Their dishes are all fresh and light, helping you avoid the heavy feeling ramen can often leave you with and is definitely worth a visit! Plus, it’s handy for mixed groups, so no one feels like they’re missing out. (You may also want to check out their other store in Kyobashi for their mushroom ramen!)
Hours: 10am – 11pm (L.O. 10:30pm)
7. Kizo – For beef tongue shio ramen
Run by Mr. Chiba, the head of the Japan Ramen Association, it’s no surprise the the ramen dished up here is good. Specialising in shio ramen topped with scallions and Sendai beef tongue, the flavors are strong without being overwhelming. There is a cream and garlic paste dropped into the middle which blends in quickly, but if you try a bit straight from the center you can get a deliciously rich mouthful to start. There are some great options for trying the beef tongue, including sides of dry curry. On the Tokyo Ramen Street maps, this restaurant is listed as Sendai Negi-shio Ramen with Gyutan Kizou (we prefer Kizo for short though).
Hours: 10:30am – 10:30pm (L.O. 10pm)
8. Chiyogami – For refined chukasoba
The second brand of Ikaruga, this restaurant focuses on shio ramen with an exceptionally clear broth and traditional toppings. Chuka-soba is the original Chinese noodles, and has undergone plenty of modification over the years. The store motto is for you to choose a dish that suits your mood, and is a refined version of a nostalgic favorite, the modern Chuka-soba.
Hours: 11am – 11am (L.O. 10:30pm)