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Ramen Nagi – King Of Niboshi Ramen

Ramen Nagi rules the niboshi ramen waves. In Shinjuku’s Golden Gai (Kabukicho) neighborhood, you couldn’t find a more tasty ramen nightcap.

Interior Niboshi Decorating

Ramen Nagi – Some Background

Outside of Japan, Ramen Nagi is best known for its tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen brand, Butao. However, in Japan their niboshi (dried fish) ramen steals the spotlight. Let’s set the scene.

Tonkotsu Ramen at Butao in Shibuya

Back in the day and while traveling to Aomori, Ramen Nagi’s owner, Ikuta-san, fell in love with local niboshi ramen. The Aomori region is known for apples, a colorful Autumn festival…and niboshi ramen.

Ramen at Hirakoya in Aomori

Inspired in Aomori, Ikuta-san made it his mission to take niboshi ramen to the next level in Tokyo. Today, he sits upon a sizable ramen empire.

THE Ramen Nightcap in Shinjuku

Among Ramen Nagi’s several Tokyo branches, its the tiny Shinjuku flagship shop that stands out. Locals and tourists alike frequent it. It’s open 24 hours!

This makes sense, as it’s located smack in the middle of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai district. Think of Golden Gai as a spiderweb of narrow alleyways and cramped bars open until the wee hours of the morning.

Ramen Nagi Shinjuku - Inside

Against this backdrop, their Shinjuku flagship shop only has a few seats. But it’s all part of the charm.

Niboshi Ramen Soup and Toppings

Of course the niboshi ramen they serve here is fantastic. Ikuta-san made sure of this. In Japan, niboshi ramen normally involves dried sardines. But Nagi uses not just sardines, but a whopping 20+ different types of dried fish.

All Toppings Circa 2018

Don’t be alarmed if you’re not big on fish. While the soup here is indeed fish-forward, there’s a meaty richness alongside a bold soy sauce seasoning. In other words, the soup is deliciously well-balanced.

Their signature red sauce in the middle adds another layer of flavor – both sweetness and a jolt of heat.

Ramen Nagi Shinjuku - Ramen
All Toppings Circa 2021

For toppings, huge chunks of negi (spring onions) are a nice contrast to the rich soup. The big pork chashu slices are as soft as silk. There even are dried sardines placed decoratively on top. They drive home the point that this is niboshi ramen.

We can’t forget the insanely-sized sheet of seaweed either. It looks almost like a black stage curtain.

The Noodles

Ramen Nagi makes their own noodles…and you’re treated to TWO types.

Type 1

The first type makes up most of the noodles. They’re thick, wavy, and wonderfully chewy. The second type is absurdly thicker and flatter. Digging these noodles out of the soup is a lot of fun.

Ramen Nagi Shinjuku - Noodles

Ramen Summary

All in all, Ramen Nagi provides a terrific ramen experience.

Ramen Nagi Shinjuku - Outside

Whether they become your gateway to the world of niboshi ramen…or are just a hearty bowl after a night out, it’s impossible to forget them.

Shinjuku Flagship Shop: Map


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