Best Ramen in Tokyo? Don’t Miss These Michelin Star Ramen Shops!
What dish do you imagine when you think of Japanese food? For many, the first dish would be ramen. And rightly so—ramen is easily one of the most popular domestic and exported Japanese dishes. You can find a ramen shop on every corner here in Tokyo, as well as instant ramen packets in every grocery store and conbini. As you can probably guess, that means ramen has been done, redone, and redone again to create countless variations of this staple noodle dish. So, where do you start if you’re on the hunt for the best ramen in Tokyo? Easy—try these Michelin-starred ramen shops (obvs)!
A quick note about Michelin ratings
Below, I’ll introduce you to three ramen shops. Why only three? Because the Michelin Guide has only given stars to three ramen shops in Tokyo (as of writing this post)!
I’ve heard people talk about other ‘Michelin-starred’ places, but they’ve confused Michelin-starred with Michelin-recommended. Michelin-starred refers to places with a star rating (one, two, or three stars), while Michelin-recommended refers to a place with either the bib gourmand or l’assiette Michelin rating.
Here’s what these designations mean in case you were wondering.
Bib gourmand: Restaurants serving noteworthy food at reasonable prices for the location.
L'assiette Michelin: Restaurants serving quality food. *No restaurants in Tokyo have this rating as of writing.
I wanted to point this out because the standards for these ratings are very different than those for a star. So, you shouldn’t necessarily go into a place with a bib gourmand rating expecting the same that you would of a three-star restaurant. But while these places do not have a coveted Michelin star, their food is still full of flavor and a great choice when eating out. With all that said, back to the best ramen in Tokyo!
Looking for an indulgent ramen experience? Then add Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta to your itinerary. Tsuta is the first ramen shop to ever receive a Michelin star. Chef Yuki Onishi opened Tsuta in 2012 with the belief of using all-natural ingredients. Driven by a vision of creating new and original ramen dishes, he experimented with unconventional ingredients to recreate this Japanese staple. The result? A signature shoyu soba with black truffle oil. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Cup Ramen—this dish exudes decadence from its elegantly crafted noodles to its rich broth.
In January 2020, Tsuta moved from its original nine-seat shop in Sugamo to a roomier 25-seat shop in Yoyogi-Uehara. At the original shop, Tsuta had a unique ticketing system. But, for better or for worse, they nixed this system when they moved (Personally, we’d rather getting up early to get a ticket instead of waiting in line for an hour). So, make sure to arrive early and expect a queue. Additionally, Tsuta has branch shops in Hong Kong, Singapore, San Francisco, and Manila.
Address: Frontier Yoyogi Uehara B1, 3-2-4 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Sosakumenkobo Nakiryu is a ramen shop for anyone who loves a good tantanmen. Tantanmen, or dandan noodles, is a spicy, sesame-flavored noodle dish that originates from China’s Szechuan province. And while the Japanese interpretation tends to be lighter and creamier than the original, make no mistake, this is not your typical Japanese ramen.
Admittedly, I do not typically crave tantanmen. I find a lot of them to be very oily and overly spicy for my tastes. But Nakiryu? I could have their tantanmen (or tantan tsukemen!) every week. The broth is robustly flavorful without being heavy or single-note. And coupled with fine, angel-hair noodles, the dish is elevated beyond the dandan noodles served elsewhere.
Nakiryu is located a few minutes from Otsuka Station. Arrive early and expect a long queue.
Address: 2-34-4 Minamiotsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
The most recent ramen shop to receive Michelin star status, Sobahouse Konjikihototogisu combines flavors from both land and sea. Known for its unique broth blend, the shop mixes pork broth, Japanese fish-based dashi, and clam dashi. Hototogisu tops it off with truffle sauce and porcini oil for a complex, yet light and balanced blend of flavors.
Konjikihototogisu originally opened shop by Hatagaya Station but moved to Shinjuku’s nichome area in mid-2018. Soon after, they were awarded a Michelin star. Despite this, Hototogisu is still somewhat under detected and queues remain fairly reasonable compared to the previous two ramen shops.
Konjikihototogisu also has branches in Toronto and Singapore.
Address: 2-4-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Michelin star instant ramen?
If you’re on the hunt for the best ramen in Tokyo, you might have heard of Michelin star instant ramen. I’ll cut to the chase here and let you know that the Michelin guide has not awarded any ratings to any instant ramen. That said, you can find convenience store versions of ramen from two of the above shops. Tsuta and Nakiryu have partnered with some of the leading instant ramen producers ( Maruchan and Nissin, respectively), to create instant versions of their signature bowls.
Found at select 7/11 stores throughout Japan, these instant ramen creations are unlike the bland 10-cent options sold in the west. Pour hot water in, let the noodles cook, and then add in the special sauces. In just a few minutes, you get, arguably, one of the best instant ramen meals of your life. The noodles are noticeably thinner, creating a better noodle-to-broth ratio in each bite. And the broth has hints of those key ingredients from the original bowls. As someone who doesn’t care much for instant ramen, I can tell you that these are quite good.
But as someone who’s eaten the originals, these instant versions are not the same as what you get at the shop. And while this shouldn’t come as a surprise, the quality of the ingredients and the mastery of cooking cannot be mass-recreated. So, the flavor and the texture just aren’t there. Does that mean you should skip these ‘Michelin star instant ramen’ options altogether? Not necessarily. We still buy them to eat at home occasionally. These versions are solid and quick meals. They’re great if you have a large or difficult group, if you don’t have the time to wait in queues, or if you’re not in Tokyo.
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