Ramen Hirai (Chukasoba Hirai), located in Fuchu, Tokyo, has bagged awards left and right. The house special is a rich tsukemen (dipping ramen).
Ramen Hirai - Trophy Ramen
Ramen Hirai (中華蕎麦 ひら井) opened in May 2021. It didn't take too long for them to get recognized. Ramen Walker magazine named them one of Tokyo's hottest new ramen shops.
They also are big on Tabelog (Japan's version of Yelp). Specifically, they're 1 of 100 top Tokyo ramen shops on Tabelog. It's no wonder that the line to get in is long.
Another thing that contributes to line are the noodles. Tsukemen (dipping ramen) noodles are thick and take a long time to boil. Served cold, they furthermore need to be rinsed under cold water. This means each tsukemen takes over over 12 minutes to prepare.
Is this wait worth it? I weigh in below!
Silky Smooth Tsukemen
Ramen Hirai does a super rich style of tsukemen. The soup is pork, beef, and chicken. To be honest, I prefer my rich tsukemen to have some fish elements too. But this is simply a footnote. I can appreciate what they're doing here.
The meaty soup is silky smooth, with a concentrated, salty flavor from the soy sauce seasoning. The thick and straight dipping noodles are just as smooth. Made in-house, these noodles are exemplary.
They're made from whole wheat flour from around the country - Ayahikari (Mie), Chikugo Izumi (Kyushu), and Haruyokoi (Hokkaido). What's more is that the wheat flour they use is ground on a stone mill!
The tsukemen comes with sea salt to enjoy with the noodles before dipping them into the soup. There's a slice of lemon to provide zing as well (meant to be used at the end).
You're treated to two types of pork. Both are outstanding. The pork slices with a rend tinge are prepared in the old-school char siu way. But they've given a modern, peppery upgrade.
The barrel style pork belly in the back is broiled and smoky. Soup included, Ramen Hirai is definitely all about meat. The only veggies you'll find are are negi (spring onions) floating in the soup. Does the sheet of seaweed count?
Worth the Wait?
I'm happy to have crossed Ramen Hirai off my big list. While I do prefer this tsukemen style to also have fish in the soup (additional layers of flavor), this is a small point.
The noodles and toppings here steal the show and are more than enough reason to warrant a visit. Ramen Hirai isn't mucking around.