The Jimbocho ramen scene runs deep. Real deep. From classic shoyu to lavish lobster bisque ramen, these are my top 10 picks in one of Tokyo’s most competitive ramen neighborhoods – JIMBOCHO.
1. Spicy Tantanmen – La Show Han
La Show Han (担々麺本舗辣椒漢) superbly shines a light on tantanmen, a fiery, Sichuan-rooted ramen. They serve a number of tantanmen with various spice levels – soupless, and with soup. Soupless is most popular.
It strikes a perfect balance between spiciness and creaminess, with toppings like kaiware sprouts and green negi (spring onions) adding a dash of freshness. In short, La Show Han is legit. Full review here.
2. Pork Back Fat Ramen – Kai
Jimbocho Kai (神保町 可以) faithfully showcases Niigata ramen. Niigata prefecture is a ramen powerhouse, with multiple ramen styles.
One of the most famous styles is Tsubame-Sanjo. It’s a shoyu-seasoned, niboshi (fish) broth with an absurd amount of PORK BACK FAT floating at the top. This of course among the Niigata ramen choices at Kai in Jimbocho. Full review here.
3. Shrimp Oil Ramen – Menya 33
Menya 33 (麺屋33) has a big menu for such a small restaurant. Choose from a variety of light or rich ramen or tsukemen (dipping ramen). Pictured is the light and refreshing, chicken-powered shio ramen.
With the shio (salt seasoning), they’ll ask if you want shrimp oil drizzled on top. If you say yes, that shrimp aroma will hit your nostrils right as the bowl hits the counter. Shrimp oil or not, this might be the best bowl of shio on the list. However, the ramen shop below might disagree.
4. Top Ranked Jimbocho Ramen -Kurosu
Kurosu (黒須) has the distinction of being the highest ranked ramen shop in Jimbocho. It regularly trades places with another famous entry on this list. Order their shio ramen. The broth is all about high-grade chickens - the Amakusa Daiou breed.
But there are several modern touches, which may have helped them get on Michelin's Bib Gourmand guide. Specifically, there are little pools of oyster paste and truffle sauce. We can't forget the beautiful sous-vide pork and hosaki menma (long bamboo shoot). Full review here.
5. Lobster Bisque Ramen – Ebimaru
The owner at Ebiumaru (海老丸らーめん), Masa-san, trained in French cuisine for many years. This extensive experience culminates with their new age, lobster bisque ramen.
The Canadian lobster broth is thick, hearty, and absolutely delicious. A baguette with sour cream, diced red onions, and a cherry tomato are among the modern touches for toppings. Full review here.
6. Unique Shoyu Ramen – Fukumen Tomo
Part of the well-respected Ganko ramen group, Fukumen Tomo (覆麺智) is one-of-a-kind. For one, the staff sometimes wear Lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) masks. The ramen isn’t as wacky. But it is definitely first-class.
They’ll often offer limited time ramen, using everything from oysters to duck. But the pictured shoyu ramen is the most ordered. A unique topping is the ankimo (monkfish liver) paste. It adds a slight fish accent alongside the bolder shoyu and flashes of garlic.
7. Faithful Ramen – Ochanomizu Taishoken
Taishoken is credited with creating tsukemen (dipping ramen). It’s very common for former employees to eventually open up shops of their own. Ochanomizu Taishoken (お茶の水 大勝軒) is one of such shops.
What makes them impressively stand out is that their ramen and tsukemen are mirror images of what are served at Taishoken in Higashi-Ikebukuro. In other words, they’re faithful recreations – right down to the 20+ ingredients in the slightly sour broth and hand-cut noodles.
8. Hiroshima Tantanmen at Kunimatsu
Starting at ¥670, Kunimatsu’s (くにまつ) Hiroshima style soupless tantanmen is a steal. It’s minimalist – thin noodles, a massive amount of green negi, and well-seasoned minced pork.
After a good mix of the noodles, you’ll find it has a salty flavor and is heavy on the shibire numbing pepper. Onsen tamgo (runny egg) is a welcome topping.
9. Refined, Old-School Ramen – Katsumoto
Katsumoto (勝本) has two ramen shops in Jimbocho. One is for ramen, the other for tsukemen (dipping ramen). Like Kurosu on this list, Katsumoto prettily sits atop the Jimbocho ramen rankings.
Their soy sauce-seasoned chukasoba pays homage to older Tokyo style bowls. However, it does this in an updated manner. There’s a beautiful harmony of chicken and niboshi fish. The dark wooden exterior and interior makes for great photos too.
10. Amazing Noodles – Kitakata Shokudo
Kitakata Shokudo (きたかた食堂) also lean towards a classic ramen style. But this time, it’s ramen from famous ramen city Kitakata. This means homemade, hand-massaged Kitakata noodles.
These moist noodles are high in water content and have a wonderful springiness to them. The relatively light pork bone and niboshi fish broth itself is excellent as well and won’t weigh you down. Choose either a light or saltier shoyu.
Jimbocho simply has too many high-level ramen shops. As such, here are THREE more must visits!
Ice Cold Ramen at Totoko
Totoko (麺ダイニング ととこ) specializes in ramen from Yamagata, a prefecture that is crazy about noodles. One style is an ice cold, salty shoyu ramen.
In Totoko’s version, almost everything is from Yamagata – from the Marusei shoyu to apple vinegar. It’s served hot or cold – keeping customers coming back all year round. Full review here.
Chicken Ramen at Noodle Meister Genk
Noodle Meister Genk (ヌードル マイスター 源九) serves various ramen bowls. But their best might be the chicken-forward ramen. It blends chicken from Oyama, Mioudori, and Soshu Kohakudori.
It carries a light shoyu seasoning and a gentle chicken aftertaste. Full review here.
More Chicken Ramen – Kagura-ya
Kagura-ya (かぐら屋) serves both light and rich chicken ramen. Both are excellent.
You have a choice of a light or rich chicken broth. I might be partial to the rich one! Full review here.
All in all, Jimbocho ramen will not leave you disappointed. This area doesn’t mess around.
For the Top 10 Ramen Shops in Shibuya, CLICK HERE.