Fuunji (風雲児) is an institution in the tsukemen world since it opened up in 2007 and for me has everything to love about what makes digging out great ramen spots: a superb bowl, cozy yet authentic surroundings and a legendary build-up of anticipation as you queue to get seated.
Fuunji is primarily known for its tsukemen bowl – the style of dipping cold noodles in a hot, concentrated broth packed full of flavour. The style first originated in the 1960s, but has seen an explosion in popularity over the last decade.
As you'll discover at the ticket machine inside the shop entrance, Fuunji actually serves both ramen (¥750) and tsukemen (¥800) but there should be no confusion – most are here for the famed tsukemen. Each comes in a deluxe version (¥950/¥1000) with extra flavour and additional toppings. You can order a larger portion of noodles for free, though the standard size is a challenge in itself.
The Ehime-born owner, Miyake-san, is a delight to watch as he animates the kitchen, straining and serving freshly-cooked tsukemen noodles with sharp, fluid motions, dynamic flair and impeccable timing.
The tsukemen at Fuunji comprises a double soup of a rich, layered toripaitan chicken-bone soup alongside a second fish soup. Toppings include nori, bamboo shoots and, hidden beneath the surface, an ajitama egg and plenty of braised pork belly. On top sits a pungent bomb of gyofun dried fish powder which adds extra depth and intensity. Smokey fish flavours come from bonito and niboshi, and the soup in its entirety is bursting with an intense, rich umami flavour.
As you finish your noodles, you can also top up the bowl with soup stock to finish off the remainder of the soup if you wish.
Fuunji is a 1 minute walk around the corner from Shinsen-Shinjuku station, exit 6. When you get here you'll notice people waiting outside this otherwise small, unassuming ramen shop at the basement level, but note that the queue can typically extend across the road.
When you finally make it inside the shop, the queue continues right along the back wall behind the seated diners at the counter (which seats 15). A bit claustrophobic perhaps, but definitely adds to the anticipation that comes with trying one of Tokyo's best bowls of tsukemen.