Tokyo Ramen Street
Underground ramen battle arena: you choose the winner!
The sounds of slurping surround you in the underground Tokyo Ramen Street (東京ラーメンストリート) inside Tokyo Station. The underground location offers a brilliant spot for this collective of seven distinct and popular ramen restaurants. Tokyo's train stations are notorious for being food wonderlands and this soupy dining street fits in perfectly. I visited Tokyo Ramen Street after the dinner rush and almost every restaurant was still packed with hungry commuters. To access this ramen consortium, exit through Tokyo Station's Yaesu Central Exit and turn right.
The range of ramen includes tsukemen (dipping ramen), miso ramen, shoyu (soy sauce) ramen and the wackier 'junk food' ramen. For those that are curious, the junk food ramen is a soup-less conglomerate of high-caloric goodness including crunchy snack noodles, egg, cheese shreds, bacon bits and pure fat. For the true food adventurers out there, this may be just next ramen genre to conquer.
Kanisenmon Keisuke was my chosen spot for the evening, which I admit I chose for the standout Hokkaido-shaped bowls. Kanisenmon means "specializing in crab" and the broth of these ramen bowls is, unsurprisingly, made with crab. The top recommendation at this eatery is the 950 yen miso ramen. While I am not claiming to be a top ramen aficionado, I can say that my bowl of ramen (and side of gargantuan gyoza) was delicious! It's no wonder that ramen blogs are sprouting up all over the Internet with noodle fiends chasing the dream of the ultimate bowl of soupy scrumptiousness.
Every restaurant on the Tokyo Ramen Street operates with the automated ticket vending system. Many of the buttons have corresponding images of the food available. If you cannot read Japanese, ask an employee or friendly-looking passerby to help out. Most of the ramen bowls go for around 850 - 1000 yen, which makes for an affordable lunch or dinner meal. After selecting your meal of choice, a ticket will be dispensed from the machine, which you will then hand to one of the wait staff. Take a seat and await your delicious ramen.
Each of these seven restaurants offers their own twist on this consummate Japanese dish. The hearty flavors will leave you feeling full and surely coming back for more. It's too bad that there is no offering of introductory mini bowls from each of the restaurants to try and compare all of the types in one visit. I suppose that means I have to make some more return visits to Tokyo Ramen Street to try all the varieties.