For ramen in Sangenjaya, Kokokara (汁なし担々麺 ここから) is a best-kept secret. This ramen shop’s spicy tantanmen is one of Tokyo’s very best.
Sangenjaya Ramen Royalty
Sangenjaya is a hidden gem of a Tokyo district, home to first-rate bars and restaurants. Ramen-wise, Sangenjaya does have some good places. But it’s not exactly a ramen battleground.
Even if it was, tantanmen specialist Kokokara would deliciously stick out. This ramen shop’s tantanmen (spicy ramen) is among the finest I’ve had in Tokyo. This is coming from a professional ramen eater.
Tantanmen is an offshoot of spicy, soupless dan dan noodles. You might be thinking, “if there’s no soup, is it even ramen?” Do note that ramen evolved from Chinese noodle dishes. Some, like dan dan, were soupless.
In other words, soupless dan dan / tantanmen is the way to go. Kokokara in Sangenjaya serves an amazing version of it. They’re not skimping on anything – the ingredients are so fresh and full of energy. Mix well!
Beautifully thick noodles mop up a harmonious collision of sesame paste, homemade chili oil and Sichuan numbing pepper. In the white sesame tantanmen, the flavors lean towards creamy. But the spiciness and numbing pepper tingliness aren’t too far away.
The black sesame version is more sweet, smoky and peppery. In both there's crunchy green negi (spring onions), coriander, bok choy, and crumbly minced pork on top.
Overall, this dish is like a classic (soupless) tantanmen that’s been elevated. I’ve gone back several times for it.
Tantanmen with Soup
If you’re not ready for the idea of “soupless ramen”, Kokokara has tantanmen with soup too. In this one, the sesame flavors sit comfortably in the background. Instead, it’s the chili oil that’s front and center.
This gives the soup an oilier quality. The Sichuan numbing peppers are still present in every sip though. In terms of toppings, there’s no bok choy or coriander. Note that the egg was an add-on (possible for either tantanmen).
Lastly, the tantanmen with soup has thinner noodles. In my humble opinion, the soupless tantanmen is the superior ramen. But this one is certainly no slouch. There's even a thicker and denser version (below) if you're seeking a richer, creamier meal.
To conclude, if you’re going to have ramen in Sangenjaya, prioritize Kokokara and their amazing tantanmen. You won’t even need to visit other tantanmen shops in Tokyo.