Monday, August 3, 2015

Ramen Street at Tokyo Station and Ichiran in Shibuya

I tried to make sure I had a daily dose of ramen goodness when I was in Tokyo last.  I checked out various ramen shops, but concentrated on the ramen shops at Tokyo Station and ate at three separate shops.  Tokyo Station is an awesome microcosm of everything Japan and that includes ramen down at Ramen Street in the basement there.  The anime "Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma" summarized this in episode 17 when the protagonist Yukihira Soma basically describes the renovations at the local train station as one of those cities inside a station concepts.

There has been plenty written about the ramen noodle soup at Tokyo Station, but here is my take on it.  There were long lines at some restaurants and I basically passed on some of these as I was tired after long days of sightseeing, but you can definitely get into the shop of your choice with a short wait most of the time.
Ramen Street side hall.  The shops are clustered in the main hallway and down here.
Ramen Street side hall. Sign showing 8 ramen shops.
The Ramen Shops.
The first shop I checked out didn't have a line when I arrived, but after a brief look around I came back and a fifteen minute wait had formed.  So I went to another shop to eat as all of the ramen looked so good anyways.  I can't say I had a favourite as they were all good and had distinct flavours.

I ended up at Oreshiki Jun, and had a thick, darkish, pork ramen that was full of flavour.  You get your ramen within a few minutes of handing your tickets to the waiter.  You get seating at either a long table and everyone eats quickly after being served.  You don't have to inhale your food so you can savour it, but loitering isn't cool.
Oreshiki Jun
Ordering machine.  Make your choices and insert case or use your PASMO card and pick up the ticket(s) for your food.
A very flavourful, strong ramen soup with yummy pork and eggs.
A few nights later I tried out another tonkotsu (pork bone) broth based ramen at Ikaruga.  The broth here was still very flavourful, but not as dark and thick as the last place.  I ordered an extra egg as I love ramen eggs and enjoyed a very tasty bowl of ramen. 
Ordering machine.  You can always use the top left hand button if you can't decide as it is usually a shop recommendation.  Also add in side orders of gyoza, extra pork, etc., if you need to.
Tasty broth, nice fatty pieces of pork, bamboo shoots, and lots of eggs!
Finally, I went to Hirugao and had one of their deluxe ramens.  This is a branch of a larger chain, but the soup was still good.  It was more of a lighter shio (salt + chicken?) broth with plenty of ramen toppings.  There was actually a pretty good crowd for this place when I went and I think the ladies that were there were enjoying the lighter broth (not quite so heavy).
Entrance.
Hirugao poster.  I had the No. 1
It was good and kind of reminded me a bit of wonton soup stock (the good kind and not from powder).  There was a small shrimp on the egg.  Yummy.

That kind of concludes a brief look at the ramen shops of Tokyo Station Ramen Street.  I will add that I had ramen in a few other places too and I finally tried Ichiran, a noodle shop chain I had heard people rave about.  When I went to have a more in-depth look at Shibuya, I stopped in for an early dinner and a very brief lineup.  They have several shops in Shibuya too and I went to the second one I think which was down some stairs and in a basement.  There was one narrow aisle of booths and each booth is divided off from the others to encourage your ramen enjoyment and not chit chat.

Entrance to Ichiran
Ichiran tonkatsu ramen.
The ramen here actually had a really tasty broth and the noodles were thinner than some of the other places but they had a good texture.  I would definitely eat at an Ichiran again so the ravings about this chain are kind of spot on.  You order your ramen at the machine, get directed to a seat, then you fill in a short form to customize your ramen prep the way you want.  A cook picks up your ticket and form and ramen is delivered shortly afterwards.

More ramen and Japanese pop culture posts.




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