Tokyo    ramen    in English    24 by 7     
 

2007-01-01

Ramen Shop Chains

This is a listing of most of the "major" ramen shop chains in Tokyo. It is not intended to be exhaustive and they are arranged in no particular order. Any one of these chains would be a good choice as long as you understand what type of ramen that chain specializes in. The chain name is provided in both English and Japanese along with a link to their web site. In order to see what that chain's branch locations are, on their web site look for a link (usually near the top or left side) that starts off with these kanji: 店舗. That link will usually take you to their branch listing page. Unfortunately you'll need to know some kanji to read those pages, so for each chain I've included at least one direct link to a branch location (with map) that I've been to.


Ramen Jiro (ラーメン二郎) has its own page here


Kookai (空海)



- One of my personal favorites for ramen and tsukemen
- Specializes in shoyu shina soba
- Some dishes such as tsukemen come on wooden trays
- O-mori service is free at some branches
- Tsukemen broth is probably the best I have had
- Chashu portion is a bit small, get an extra order of chashu if you like it
- Ebisu branch
- Japan Times review


Ippudo (一風堂)



- Very well-known tonkotsu/Hakata style ramen
- Broth that is not extremely fatty but still has a rich taste (very salty though)
- Some people think it is the best tonkotsu ramen in Tokyo
- Waitstaff is friendly at all locations (but sometimes rushed)
- Probably one of the biggest chains in Tokyo, with the most branches
- You get free spicy moyashi, karashi takana (spicy greens) and shoga at your table to eat on your rice or on your ramen
- My recommendation is to ask for the noodles to be katame (firm)
- They have aka-maru (赤丸) and shiro-maru (白丸), akamaru is slightly more flavorful
- The lunch set (ramen, gyoza and all-you-can-eat rice) is probably the best deal in town, but you will wait for a while in line with all the local office workers
- No tsukemen on the menu but they do have kaedama (extra helping of noodles)
- Some supermarkets such as Mitsukoshi sell Ippudo ramen sets (noodles + broth + karashi takana) for making it at home
- Ebisu branch
- The Tokyo Incidents review


Kohmen (光麺)



- Most branches are near Yamanote line stations
- A more flavorful broth, very rich, shoyu or shio
- Slightly different menus for different sets of stores
- They have dan-dan men, many chains do not have that
- Definitely some of the best grilled chashu around, similar to Yotteko-ya
- Wider noodles (similar to fettuccine)
- Akihabara branch (at Yodobashi Camera)
- Metropolis review


Tenkaippin (天下一品)



- Tenkaippin is actually chicken bone-based ramen
- A very "kotteri" (こってり) or thick ramen, the broth is almost like a sauce or gravy in consistency
- They have a more mainstream shoyu "assari" (あっさり) broth also
- Definitely recommend that you try it, but not as your first or only one in Tokyo
- Service lunchtime teishoku (kotteri/assari ramen, small gyoza, chahan) is the best value
- Every branch seems to play a different type of music (Beatles, reggae, rock)
- You can also get the noodles and broth in special sealed packages to go
- Ebisu branch (恵比寿店)
- English review of a branch in Hawaii


Yoshu Shonin (揚州商人)



- Yoshu Shonin is a Chinese/Japanese ramen house, with many branches
- Quite a lot of interesting things on the menu, they have an understandable menu even if you can't read Japanese
- Have you ever had "hot and sour" soup from a Chinese restaurant in the US? If so, their version of that called "suratanmen" or "sanratanmen" (スーラータンメン or サンラータンメン) will blow your mind, it has thin ramen noodles in it and it's the best I've ever had, really really spicy and peppery, I almost guarantee you will be sweating at the end of the bowl
- The black vinegar cabbage fried rice (kuro-su-kabbaji-chahan) is excellent too
- Very reasonably priced, portions are generous
- fun place to go with friends, but most branches do not have tables for more than 4
- Ebisu branch (恵比寿店)
- Bento.com review of Ebisu branch


Yotteko-Ya (よってこや)



- large number of shops (more than 50), including four in Shanghai and one in Hawaii
- all ramen dishes are basic tonkotsu base, with shoyu and miso variaions
- Excellent grilled chashu, my recommendation is the chashu-men (900 yen), probably some of the best from a large chain shop
- no tsukemen
- past the ramen, a slightly more limited menu than some other chains
- Home Page
- Ebisu original shop map+address (恵比寿本店)


Bannai (喜多方ラーメン 坂内)

 

- Bannai Ramen does not have a large menu but some interesting items, including chahans, katsudons and hiyashi chuka
- more than 60 shops throughout the Kanto region and surrounding areas
- Kitakata-style ramen, clear pork, soy and (slightly) fish-based broth with wavy noodles
- broth is less strong than some other ramen places (IMO)
- the pork is in small pieces with relatively large sections/layers of fat
- this noodle style is well-known and famous in Japan
- Bannai ramen can also be ordered online for home delivery (Japan only) and can also be purchased at the store to enjoy at home, at most branches
- Home Page
- Ebisu branch map+address (恵比寿本店)


Jangara (九州じゃんがら)



- Jangara Kyushu Ramen has several branches in Tokyo, none outside AFAIK
- it is probably the ramen chain that most tourists hear or read about, and they typically go to the one in Harajuku or Akihabara, if there's a "touristy" ramen chain in Tokyo this is it, not Jiro
- expect at least 30-60 min lines on weekends at those two locations (Harajuku shop has two floors)
- Jangara is very good, but you can get 90% of the Jangara "Kyushu tonkotsu" taste at Ippudo or Yoshimaru with no line (typically)
- You might want to consider one of the other branches (Kanda, Nihonbashi, Akasaka) if you are in those areas also, the recently opened Kanda branch is convenient (= walkable) from Akihabara
- very fatty stewed chashu (the kind that falls apart) at Jangara is what distinguishes it, and a couple of the locations have English menus
- tonkotsu broth is a bit less "strong" of a flavor compared to Ippudo or Ichiran (my opinion)
- Home Page
- Harajuku branch map+address (原宿店)
- Rameniac review


Yoshimaru (由丸)



- Another Hakata-type tonkotsu chain, only 12 shops in Tokyo
- shops have a slightly classier feel (to me) than Ippudo
- My opinion: Ippudo's soup is better, but Yoshimaru's pork is better
- They have a larger number of interesting side dishes, such as wontons, a chashu/negi plate, a tonkotsu dan-dan men, and tsukemen (some branches)
- lunch sets similar to Ippudo
- Home Page
- Branch list (second one down is Shinagawa, fourth one is Kanda)


Keika (桂花)



- from Hakata, but actually the Kumamoto style
- typically sesame or garlic flavored, with either oil or real sesame/garlic in the broth
- noodles run quite thin and there is a heavy use of cabbage (extra cabbage plate available for a fee, I guess if you are into cabbage)
- shops tend to be older looking with plainer features since the chain has been around for 40 years or so
- Some supermarkets sell Keika's noodles "plain" in packages to take home
- good rich taste, but very thin noodles
- the ta-ro-men is the recommended choice if you want hot ramen with good pork, and recently they have added tsukemen to the menu
- Home Page
- Tokyo area locations (one in Yokohama)
- Ramen Road review


Kagetsu (花月)



- Really one of the largest chains nationwide under several different brandings, with 200+ shops in 30 prefectures
- 50 shops in Tokyo
- very wide menu
- reasonable quality and variety

- Home Page
- Shop List