Afuri Ramen (阿夫利) has built a modest ramen empire on the back of its popular shio ramen with yuzu citrus.
But is it everything it’s made out to be? As a professional ramen eater, here’s my take!
Afuri Ramen – Some Background
They’re actually named after Mount Afuri in Kanagawa prefecture (south of Tokyo). This was close to where their first ramen foray was. The fresh flowing waters of Mount Afuri served as an inspiration.
Afuri opened up their first Tokyo ramen shop in the Ebisu neighborhood in 2003. They’re now all over Tokyo, including Naka-Meguro, Shinjuku, and Roppongi. They even have shops in Portland and Lisbon.
Their Famous Yuzu Ramen
While shoyu (soy sauce ramen) is on the menu, Afuri is recognized most for their shio (salt) ramen. The light shio seasoning underpins a broth that's centered on chicken. The broth is whole chickens, chicken neck and back, ginger, kelp and niboshi (dried sardines). There’s a delicate simplicity to it.
But their calling card is yuzu citrus - carefully adding it to this ramen. This yellow agent adds a sweet and gentle acidity to the broth.
Next to toppings like mizuna and seaweed, they’re known for charcoal grilling their pork chashu. It’s fun to see this happen in front of you. Afuri is all about having an open kitchen.
But are they Worth the Hype?
There’s one big thing I respect about Afuri. When they first came to Tokyo, they were essentially pushing back against the heavy-style ramen that was popular at the time.
They’ve stuck with their delicate yuzu-powered ramen from the beginning. They haven’t steered away from their vision, in an industry where things move fast and trends come and go.
So – is their shio ramen with yuzu any good? Most people would say it’s amazing. For reference, there are other ramen shops that serve this style, including Hyottoko. But what Afuri has done really well is marketing - creating a snazzy brand.
However, instead of their ramen, I’m personally a bigger fan of their cold spicy yuzu tsukemen (dipping ramen). I actually don’t order their hot ramen that much. I feel that the yuzu shines more brightly when the broth is cold.
Afuri’s ramen can be a tad more expensive than other Tokyo ramen shops, running into the ¥1,300 range with all toppings. But besides this price point, it’s still more affordable than any ramen outside of Japan.
On another note, Afuri often shows up on the tourist radar. This isn’t a bad thing of course. Locals also love Afuri. But bear in mind that like Ichiran or Ippudo, Afuri can have a line of tourists.
Their Vegan Ramen
They also serve a vegan ramen but it’s essentially the shio ramen without that warm chicken goodness. But it does have colorful veggies and makes for good photos.
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You basically have to visit Afuri to see for yourself. If you’re on a budget or have qualms about paying a bit more for Tokyo ramen (when surrounded by quality ramen shops), maybe Afuri isn’t for you.
Or you you could be like me. I respect that Afuri has stayed true to their vision and have excelled in a world where ramen shops fade in and out.
I don’t mind paying a little extra for a nice bowl of spicy yuzu tsukemen!
Roppongi Hills Branch: