Roaming For Ramen
Some of you might be saying "yawn...ramen? Isn't that foodie trend over?"
No, I'm not talking about the Maruchan noodles you may have considered dinner in college to fund your "extracurricular activities." I'm referring to the delicious broth that's cooked for hours on end that oozes with flavor and filled with delectable noodles. Inevitably leaving a smile on your face, a full tummy and guiding you straight to a food coma.
While the origin of ramen is uncertain, I can assure you, you won't find better ramen than in Japan. If you are a broth-head noodle slurping enthusiast, might I recommend visiting Ramen Street? Yes, there is an entire street dedicated to this intoxicating dish in Tokyo.
Let's start off with the basics, Ramen Street.
Ramen Street is located in the underground mall in Tokyo Station with eight restaurants dedicated strictly to ramen. Seeing as there was a group of us, we felt confident in our navigation skills. After two maps (google and the traditional old-school paper map) we FINALLY found two kind strangers that directed us to the entrance. Of course, we had walked past it at least a dozen times. Sheesh!
Confession: I am SO directionally challenged. Thank God for Google Maps... even in my own town!
After finding the entrance, we darted underground and began the search for the sought after Rokurinsha. Passing at least fifteen different shops, yes there's Sailor Moon store for your Japanese anime fans, we found the entrance. Wouldn't you know, there were at least twenty people in the queue. We all took turns holding our place in line and about thirty to forty minutes later, we approached the door. (Tip: Anytime you find a lengthy queue in Japan, it's usually delicious and worth the wait)
As I was preparing for my trip, I kept reading about the unusual vending machines that you will find throughout Tokyo. To be honest, I saw a multitude of vending machines, but nothing extraordinary until I came to Rokurinsha for lunch. Making my way to the entrance, the gentleman instructed me to place my order. I stood in front of the ramen vending machine and was completely awestruck. The first thought that came to mind is why don't we have more of these in the United States?
In case it is your first time using a vending machine of this caliber, here are a few tips to ensure you look like a pro:
- Peruse the menu. In order to expedite the line and the selection process, have an idea of what you want to enjoy when it's your time to order. Trust me, the line with thank you.
- Leave the AmEx at home and bring some cash. Most of the restaurants utilizing vending machines of this nature only take cash.
- I'd rather be safe than sorry! Double check your order and make sure you have EVERYTHING you want. While we were fortunate enough to have a large group and could easily cover in case someone forgot a beer, etc. not sure it would be that easy to go back and order more after you have completed
Up until this point, I had only had basic ramen so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try Tsukeme. What's the first thing you notice about this dish? Exactly, the noodles aren't swimming in the flavorful broth. Tsukeme is a ramen dish where noodles, typically room temperature, are dipped in a separate bowl of broth. Rest assured, this isn't your typical soupy broth. While technically it's a dipping sauce, it reminds me of a rich stew filled with a myriad of flavors that undoubtedly will excite your palate.
Even though I didn't have a chance to sample any of the other dishes from Ramen Street, rest assured this dish was a winner.
If you find yourself in Tokyo Station or perhaps you are on the quest for the ultimate ramen, swing by Ramen Street. It's an experience you don't want to miss.
Tariff: Bowls range from ¥830 to ¥1060. For a small cost, patrons can request additional noodles, pork, egg, pepper, and onion.
Can't Miss: Tsukeme. Hindsight is 20/20, right? If I had it to do all over again, I would add some small pieces or pork and green onion just to add a little variety to the dish.
Potential Pass: I really enjoyed everything I had during my visit. Hope you do too!
Until Next Time!