Tsukemen Gonokami in Shinjuku (Tokyo) is famous for its shrimp tsukemen (dipping ramen). Always with a big line out the door, are they worth the hype? Find out below!
Tsukemen Gonokami – Shrimp Gods
Tsukemen Gonokami Seisakusho (つけ麺 五ノ神製作所 新宿店) is the full name of this celebrated Shinjuku ramen shop. Including Shinjuku, the Gonokami group operates 4 ramen shops in Tokyo and 2 in Taiwan.
The cooking philosophy at all of their locations has to do with being resourceful and making use of food byproducts.
This Shinjuku outpost showcases shrimp ingredients, ones that might otherwise be discarded. This shrimp theme is visible everywhere – even in clever ways outside the ramen shop.
You have three shrimp tsukemen (dipping ramen) choices, as per the three main columns on the ticket machine (below). They’re fine examples of 2nd wave tsukemen. This means that the soup is on the richer, thicker side.
The first column is for ordering their shining star – the basic shrimp tsukemen. Shrimp purists will rejoice, as the soup is an explosion of briny shrimp flavors. Furthermore, it’s slightly grainy from the shrimp ingredients.
Noodle portions are usually bigger with tsukemen. The regular (“nami”) portion of noodles at Gonokami is a whopping 270 grams. The thick, homemade noodles appropriately mop up the soup and are most certainly filling.
Back to the soup – it is indeed rich. But it’s not as rich as it could be.
Like scavenging for shrimp at the bottom of the sea, you’ll find sweet and crunchy onions at the bottom of the soup. These and the gren spring onions serve to tame some of that richness.
If you order all toppings (above), you’ll even get a bit of cheese in the soup! You’ll also be treated to extra slices of pork and chicken, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and an egg. The amount of cabbage is the same regardless whether you opt for “all toppings” or not.
Regulars might say that this shrimp tsukemen is the only dish you need to order. But it’s not my favorite here…
Tomato Shrimp Tsukemen!
I do like shrimp. But the above tsukemen is intensely shrimpy in flavor. Maybe this is what prompted someone at Gonokami to create a new tsukemen with tomatoes added to the soup.
As unusual as as this sounds, this addition works beautifully. The tomato shrimp tsukemen (second column on the ticket machine) is a big hit too.
Besides the visually stunning red color, the tomatoes add a welcome acidity and sweetness to the soup. They don’t wash away the shrimp by any means. But the tomatoes do take away some of the attention from it.
In my humble opinion, this tsukemen is better balanced. There’s even pesto sauce and bread to enjoy with the Italian-inspired soup.
I have yet to try column 3 on the ticket machine. It’s for their miso shrimp tsukemen. But I don’t foresee it dethroning the tomato shrimp tsukemen.
Is Gonokami Worth the Hype?
Tsukemen Gonokami is often towards the top of a tourist’s Tokyo ramen hit list. The location and English ticket machine probably contributes to this.
But putting aside how touristy it can get, Gonokami serves fantastic ramen (tsukemen).
Their unique approach and commitment to sustainability is second to none. In short, I believe this ramen shop is worth the hype. Moreover, I believe that their tomato shrimp tsukemen rules the waves.
Just make sure to visit Tsukemen Gonokami outside of peak hours (avoiding 12 pm or 6 pm). You’ll be happy you did – the line won’t look as intimidating.