Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto (蒙古タンメン中本) serves lava red, super spicy ramen. Order their ironically named, fiery “Arctic” ramen and be sure to clear your schedule for the following day.
Background on Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto
The owner, Makoto Shirane, grew up on ramen. Some time ago, he was deeply saddened to discover that his favorite neighborhood ramen shop was to close. He approached the owner, Nakamoto-san, and simply asked to be his apprentice.
This decision changed his life forever. Carrying the Nakamoto legacy on his back, he built a spicy ramen empire overnight. Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto now boasts 23 ramen shops in the Tokyo metro area.
Note: The word “Mouko” in the name refers to Mongolia. But the ramen itself has no connection to Mongolia!
Do You Dare? Spice Level 5+
Each ramen has an assigned spice level, 0 to 10. Each is unique but the style is generally either moukou tanmen or miso. Tanmen is a salt-based ramen with plenty of stir-fried veggies and pork.
Level 0 is a shio tanmen with ZERO spice. Moving up the spice escalator, even Level 3 (miso tanmen) doesn’t get me excited. Level 5 or above is the way to go.
In the mouko tanmen bowls (levels 5, 6, 8), there’s a starchy and spicy layer of ankake at the top. This significantly sweetens the broth. I prefer the miso bowls (levels 3, 7, 8, 9, 10). The miso adds extra depth.
Cabbage in the mouko tanmen, bean sprouts in the miso.
Level 9 – Arctic (“Hokkyoku”) Ramen + Arctic Egg
The spiciest ramen is Level 9 – the “Hokkyoku”, or Arctic Ramen. It employs a whole lot of chili oil and tougarashi pepper flakes. Like a lake frozen over in the Arctic, a sheet of dark red hides everything below. You’ll be sweating a lot with this one.
In the video below I order the Arctic Ramen for takeout and report back.
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SPICE LEVEL 10: Dipping Ramen!
You may even sweat a bit more with Level 10. This is a miso-based hiyashi (cold noodles) dipping ramen. The broth is very similar to Level 9, but less garlicky and more condensed.
Hiyashi Miso Ramen (Tsukemen)
Every time I order a Nakamoto ramen in the 8-10 range, I end up with a mountain of tissue papers at the end. You’ve been warned.
Nakamoto Ramen Specials
Although Nakamoto operates like a chain for the most part, many branches have their own specials. Some Nakamotoheads go as far as visiting all branches to sample them.
The special above is the Arctic Level 9 ramen but with boiled and crispy "shaki shaki" vegetables.
No matter what you order at Nakamoto, it’s an unforgettable spicy ramen experience. This is one of my go-to ramen joints during the colder Winter months.
Flagship Shop (Kamiitabashi):
Spicy sesame-based tantanmen sound good? This ramen shop in Kamiyacho deliciously delivers.