Ramen Manrai (らあめん 満来) has been dishing out humongous bowls of shoyu ramen since 1961. Of all ramen shops in Shinjuku, Manrai might have the most devoted following.
Ramen Manrai - Big Bowls of Classic Shoyu
Ramen Manrai is known for more than generous portions. Their regular ramen is already quite hefty. But for those seeking a challenge, just a little bit more money will get you dinosaur-sized slabs of pork.
I’m personally not one that gets excited about big portions though. So how about the taste at Manrai? Let’s just say this is a ramen shop I visit once a year. I think they do a fine bowl of nostalgic shoyu ramen.
But I prefer my classic shoyu ramen to have a bit more punch – either a certain bone richness or niboshi fish accent. The chicken bone based broth (with chicken oil) here is also quite sweet and this further compounded with sweet memna (bamboo shoot) toppings.
In summary, the broth is a bit too sweet and simple for me. However, I do love their noodles – they’re thick and slippery.
Nostalgia X Factor?
Regardless of flavor, Manrai does have a mystical charm. Any shop that’s survived this long would. From the cheesy saxophone-heavy elevator music to the rustic wooden interior, this ramen shop exudes nostalgia.
Note that you will have to wait a bit – there’s a line once you get inside. But salarymen don’t take too long to eat, so the line moves rather quickly.
If you’d rather not wait, Ramen Horiuchi is next door and staffed by ex-Manrai people. The ramen is therefore almost identical (including the natto topping option).
I prefer Horiuchi for flavor. But Ramen Manrai definitely has the leg up on them when it comes to the overall vibe. This is probably why I visit once a year.