TANAKA.LOBO (タナカ ロボ) serves carefully arranged sea bream ramen. Based in Tokyo's Setagaya City, this ramen shop has generated a lot of buzz since they opened.
Tanaka-san, the masterchef at TANAKA.LOBO, was once a professional cameraman. This job took him to many places. He therefore had chance to sample a lot of ramen. He became such a fan of ramen that he ended up sometimes eating 500+ bowls a year.
This obsession with ramen eventually led him to train at prominent Tokyo ramen shop Shibasakitei. It was there he honed his ramen skills for several years. In 2020 he decided to go solo, opening TANAKA.LOBO. The ramen he serves there has received a lot of praise since 2020.
Ramen Walker magazine, an authority on ramen, named TANAKA.LOBO Tokyo's no. 2 new ramen shop for the year.
A Different Sea Bream Ramen
All this fuss has been about their sea bream ramen. Red sea bream, or "tai" in Japanese, is the most prized fish in the country. There are already several Tokyo ramen shops that do sea bream ramen, including Touka, Mengyo, Machikado, and Housenka.
But those Tokyo ramen shops mostly use sea bream bones for their soup. TANAKA.LOBO switches it up, using dried (niboshi) sea bream instead. Dried fish can often bring bitter flavors. The ramen soup at TANAKA.LOBO is no different - the bitterness is there. However, it's far more restrained.
The sea bream flavor is front and center, as it should be. But just like with the bitterness, it's subdued and presented in a delicate way. This delicate soup is carried by Himalayan rock salt. It contrastingly gives the bowl a hardened, almost dramatic foundation. Lastly, there's a touch of lemon and grapefruit juice.
The toppings are simple. Sitting atop the mountain of folded noodles is an island of Okinawan soki-style boneless pork ribs. They're seasoned with a sweetly flavored soy sauce. They're wearing a hat of green negi (spring onions).
Tamura Seimen supplies the squared-shaped, medium thick noodles. The noodles are folded beautifully in the bowl. Tanaka-san definitely picked up his technique at Shibasakitei, his former training grounds.
They're located in Kamimachi, Setagaya. This is a residential area of Southwest Tokyo. It's not too far out though, only about 7 km from Shibuya.
I'll eventually be back for some of their other ramen.