He will introduce us to some of the latest ramen trends in the world. Ramen Guide Japan is currently serving as a Guest Editor at Ramen Hero. He introduce Japanese cutting-edge ramen trend in the world. If you are interested in his other content, you can check out Ramen Guide Japan!
When you get down to the basics, ramen is a pretty simple dish consisting of broth, tare, noodles, and toppings. The simplicity of ramen makes it open to countless iterations with an infinite number of ways to customize the dish while still keeping with the basic overall concept. Tokyo, home to some of the most creative ramen chefs in the world, is also home to some of the most outlandish and eccentric bowls you’ll ever find. From extravagant toppings to one of a kind soups, here are five of the most unique ramen here in Tokyo.
Fish based ramen is a pretty common occurrence throughout Japan with ingredients such as Niboshi (dried sardines), Ago (flying fish), and Tai (snapper) being used quite frequently to steep some delicious broth. So when you hear Ayu, a Japanese freshwater sweetfish, it might not be much of a surprise...until you’re finally presented with their bowl. Floating above the noodle and soup sits an entire grilled Ayu in all its glory. While it looks intimidating and troublesome to eat because of the bones, not to worry as each fish is deboned before grilling. If however, the entire fish is a bit much, the shop does offer ¼ and ½ cut options.
The broth for the ramen is, of course, Ayu and is accentuated with some chicken stock to give it a bit more body. Tare seasoning is shio, or salt, and it helps uplift the gentle Ayu stock. Thin noodles balance the bowl and keep it from overpowering the delicate flavors of the soup. Since the Ayu is grilled before plating as a topping, a smoky aroma permeates throughout the bowl as it seeps into the soup. While their regular ramen is their most famous, the one to get is the pictured, 鮎涼ラーメン, a summer time cold Ayu Tsukemen. Bouncy, cold water shocked noodles come served with a viscous, condensed ayu soup. On the side is rice cooked with broth steeped from ayu bones and pickled vegetables. The set menu is also topped with a whole, grilled ayu which you can enjoy in between slurps of the noodles or as an accompaniment to the rice. A bit of Japanese dashi broth, or soup-wari, is provided along with the set to thin the dipping soup to allow diners to enjoy every last drop.
Western influences in ramen is no new concept with a variety of shops utilizing premier ingredients and culinary techniques from all over the world. However, at Ajitoism near Oimachi station, the ramen takes on a new culture utilizing an entirely Italian influenced menu. Ajitoism’s menu consists of popular Italian cuisine inspired dishes such as the
つけ麺ロッソ, a tomato based dipping ramen, and the つけ麺 ペペロッソ, a spicier version incorporating the concept of peppe into the Tsukemen. However, the bowl to grab here is the ピザソバ, essentially a deconstructed pizza in the form of ramen.
For those unfamiliar, maze soba is a unique ramen style which comes without soup. The noodles are served with an oil based sauce that customers mix in before eating. The ピザソバ at Ajitoism comes adorned with anchovies, sliced pepperoni, bell peppers, diced onions, cheese, tomatoes, and fried onions, but also includes a traditional Japanese twist with gyofun, dried fish powder. All of these toppings, which you would typically expect on a pizza then a ramen, are mixed thoroughly with the noodles in the special tomato based oil sauce prior to eating. It can be further customized with condiments such as tabasco, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and curry powder, all provided on the table. Once the noodles are fully dressed, they are ready to be slurped. Overall flavor profile will make you think you were transported into Napoli, but once you start chewing through the thick noodles, you’ll be brought right back to Tokyo for a truly global ramen experience. The secret pro tip here is to leave some of the sauce until the end. For an extra 220 yen, the master will fill your bowl with rice, a bit of sauce, cheese, and a poached egg to enjoy the remaining bits as a pseudo risotto that is a must try.
Next up on the list is Chuka Soba Manchiken which serves a variety of ramen using duck as the main ingredient. Broth uses only duck and water, giving customers a pure duck flavor experience unlike any other. While the duck ramen has been a hit among ramen enthusiasts, their rendition of the abura soba, 特製フォアグラ油そば, has customers queuing out the door. Using both duck fat for the oil seasoning sauce and torched foie gras as topping, their abura soba is one of the most decadent bowls you can get in Tokyo...and for a fraction of the cost of foie gras at any high end restaurant in the city.
As you may have caught on with the maze/abura soba at Ajito Ism, the dish is open to countless iterations. The lack of soup forces chefs to be quite creative with the sauce and toppings which is exactly what happens at these two shops. Manchiken focuses on the duck with the aroma oil coming from the fats as well as the thigh for the chashu and liver for the foie gras toppings. A bit of yuzu, a Japanese citrus, acts as a refreshing palette cleanse in between bites of the rich tare seasoning and imparts a tangy twist. Noodles are cooked slightly al dente for a satisfying slurp and addicting chew. For a mid meal flavor change, be sure to ask for the wasabi, ginger, yuzu, or Japanese sansho peppercorn, or a combination of the four. Each element brings a new level of flavor and can make an already unique dish even more memorable.
Kipposhi might take the cake on this list for the most visually unique ramen as the vibrant blue hue of the soup catches the attention of anyone who has seen one of their bowls. Kipposhi actually has a variety of colorful and off the wall ramen on their menu, but they are most famous for this blue option, 青鶏清湯, which despite the neon shimmer, is colored using natural ingredients. Located in the trendy district of Shibuya, Kipposhi’s bowl is an instagrammers dream, but don’t mistake their ramen as just a colorful gimmick. Behind the vibrant color is a phenomenal chicken soup ramen that has regulars coming back for more.
The base for this beautiful bowl is a Tori Chintan, or light chicken soup, which is extracted from chickens on a low simmer so as not to draw out too much collagen. The technique keeps the soup clear while still steeping the soothing flavors of the chicken. However, since the process doesn’t allow for a lot of the fats to emulsify into the broth, Kipposhi uses a chiyu, rendered chicken oil and butter to add depth and fattiness to the bowl. A scoop of their vibrant blue shio tare, the components of which is a well kept secret by the chef (but swears of it being natural coloring), is added to complete the soup. Thin noodles, chicken chashu, ajitama soft boil egg, negi, and sprouts top the bowl for a classic chintan vibe.
The opinion is split regarding pineapple on pizza, but what about pineapple on ramen? Down in the Machida area of Tokyo, Papapapapine is creating some unique flavor profiles with pineapple as the prominent flavor profile. The ramen they are most known for is a shio ramen, or salt seasoned ramen, which incorporates pineapple juice for a fruity, citrusy vibe. In addition to their Shio varieties, the shop offers a multitude of various styles such as Shoyu and Tsukemen which all incorporate pineapple. Whichever you decide on, be sure to add the yellow Ajitama, soft boiled egg, as topping for the full visually impactful experience.
So the ramen here is actually carefully constructed to fit this pineapple theme using a cold water steeped kombu and niboshi broth. The method ensures that the umami notes are pulled from the ingredients while preventing the bitterness of the niboshi from seeping in, which often happens when boiled. The carefully made broth is then incorporated with their shio tare seasoning full of pineapple flavor notes and paired with medium thick noodles. A negi oil substitutes the typical chiyu, chicken oil for an oily, but refreshing overall flavor. While it might seem weird at first, the umami and gentle flavor notes of the base stock meshes well with the sweet and sour pineapple juice based tare making for an oddly satisfying soup.
So there you go, five of the most unique, off the wall ramen you can find in Tokyo. Hopefully this list inspires you to create wacky ramen concepts of your own, or have given you dinner plans for the next time you’re in Tokyo!
If you want to try unique ramen in your home, let's try our “Citrus Kick”!
“Citrus Kick” is a spicy ramen that will make you taste - and feel - your ramen by combining chicken broth, dashi flavor, and shio (salt) tare, plus an original spicy lemon sauce. With a flavor profile inspired by Yuzukosho, a traditional Japanese seasoning, and topped with pork belly chashu and black pepper pork ragu, the blend of sourness and heat is designed to infuse your senses with flavor.