For ramen in Tsukuba, Ichikawa (煮干中華ソバイチカワ) is ranked no. 1. They’re also ranked no. 5 in all of Japan! Their fine-tuned, pure niboshi ramen draws ramen fans from all over the country.
Ramen in Tsukuba – Top Ranked
First of all, let’s point out that Tsukuba is one competitive ramen city. About 60 km north of Tokyo (in Ibaraki), Tsukuba has some of the finest ramen restaurants in Japan.
At the very top of the Tsukuba ramen list is Nisboshi Chuukasoba Ichikawa (煮干中華ソバイチカワ), according to website Ramen DB.
What Makes their Ramen Special?
Ichikawa specializes in niboshi (dried sardines) ramen. Their broth is pure niboshi – they don’t mess around with other ingredients. You might call them niboshi purists?
Your choices are niboshi ramen with A) your more standard usukuchi shoyu (soy sauce) or B) white shoyu. Let’s start with the standard shoyu. The saltiness is strong in this one, as is the bitter niboshi flavor.
I usually prefer having other ingredients in the broth (not just niboshi). But this is a carefully crafted bowl that I can wholeheartedly appreciate.
White Shoyu Bowl
As to the white shoyu – since it’s a lighter seasoning, the niboshi flavors are more pronounced. There’s a more powerful niboshi aftertaste.
Standard or white shoyu – neither of these are as sludgy or intense as other niboshi bowls out there. However, while niboshi is focal point, it’s all well-balanced. Raw onions break up the bitterness and in the white shoyu, seaweed does too. In addition, the fatty chashu pork is flawless.
I feature Ichikawa and 3 other Tsukuba ramen shops in the video below!
Worth the Wait – YES
Be prepared to wait a bit. I’d recommend going at least 30 min before they open (11 am). This can ensure you’re part of the second batch (there are only 9 seats inside). If you arrive past noon, there’s a chance you won’t be eating.
At this level, ramen shops sometimes let the success get to their head. But this is not the case at Ichikawa – it’s all friendly, non-rushed vibes.
You can understand the hype and why they’re the no. 1 ranked for ramen in Tsukuba.