There are huge numbers of ramen shops in Japan. After Meiji (about 150 years ago) the Yokohama port was opened and many foreign goods were imported. Ramen was one of them. The original noodle dish originated in China but the Japanese have played with it for the last 100 years, eventually developing their own the original taste. Now ramen is recognized as a Japanese food.
There are three basic types of ramen: Shoyu (soy sauce) Miso (soy bean paste), and Shio (salt). The toppings are different from shop to shop but Chashu (slices of roast pork) and Negi (chopped spring onion) are the most common. They say, “So many men, so many minds,” but I think, “So many Japanese, so many ramen.” When I chat with my friends about ramen, and even my closest friend recommends her favorite ramen shop, I might not agree with her at all. So, I hope you will have a chance to taste a few kinds of ramen with your own tongue during your stay in Japan. I wonder which will be your favorite!
Today I would like to introduce a really nice Shio-ramen shop (This is my opinion!) in Motomachi. The shop’s name is Honmarutei (本丸亭). In the various food-ranking blogs here in Japan, Honmarutei always gets many good comments and high scores. They serve only Shio-ramen (850yen) and a few side dishes. But their taste is unique.
Their menu is written by hand in Japanese, but you can ask to see their special photo menu. If you are a person who really loves hot chilly pepper, the red Shio-ramen (900yen) might be the dish for you. But please be careful: It's really, really HOT! Their Shio soup is not salty at all but has quite a delicate, complicated and deep taste. This soup is definitely worth trying. The noodles are curly and finely mixed in with the soup.
If your stomach has enough space, I recommend Tori-zanmai (鶏三昧1000yen) with Yaki-Gyoza (焼きぎょうざ5 pieces/450yen). Tori-zanmai includes a few chicken balls in the Shio-ramen. Yaki-Gyoza is prepared like this; chopped meat and finely cut vegetables are wrapped in thin wheat flour sheets and then grilled with sesame oil. The outside of the Yaki-Gyoza is savory and crunchy, but inside it is moist and juicy. Don’t forget to put soy sauce on your Yaki-Gyoza before you eat.
By the way, I hope you are an expert at using chopsticks. But if you are a bit less confident with them, don’t hesitate to bring a fork with you.
This shop is open from 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm. After strolling along the Motomachi shopping street, if you feel a bit hungry, please try shio-ramen at Honmarutei. I bet you will enjoy their simple, deep taste!