You don’t need to go out of the way of your sightseeing itinerary to have a good bowl of ramen. Some of the best ones are actually close by – if you know where to look. Wherever you go in Tokyo, remember, these popular restaurants are just around the corner.

Tsuta () – Ikebukuro

Ever wonder how the world’s first Michelin-starred ramen bowl tastes like? You’ll easily find the answer at Sugamo Station, 2 stops from Ikebukuro Station on the JR Yamanote Line. However, with its limited seating capacity and short operating hours, expect more competition from fellow eager ramen lovers. The restaurant now employs a timeslot ticket system, where the tickets are given out as early as 8 AM daily for 6 different timeslots. You can get as many tickets as you like, but there’s a deposit of ¥ 1,000 per ticket.

So what’s so good about Tsuta? Tsuta is considered to be the king of Shoyu ramen. It uses a special blend of 3 different soy sauce from Shodoshima island, Ibaraki, and Wakayama. It also adds black truffle oil and uses whole wheat flour for its noodles. Long before it was given the Michelin accolade, it has snatched the #1 spot at Tokyo Ramen of the Year magazine ranking. Hands down, this is the best bowl you could have in Tokyo.

Address: 1F Plateau Saka 1-14-1 Sugamo, Toshima, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1323/A132301/13136231/ (Japanese only); https://www.facebook.com/jsn.tsuta (Japanese only)

Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto (蒙古タンメン中本) – Shibuya

Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto isn’t for the faint-hearted and people with weak stomachs. Be warned that this ramen joint specializes in super spicy servings of ramen, and the fiery red broth of its signature Mouko Tanmen is enough indication of how hot things can get. There are higher levels of spiciness if you’re up for the challenge, and extra servings of red chili pepper powder are always within your arms reach. To test yourself what level of spicy you can handle, there are a total of 17 branches of Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto in Tokyo. Visit their website below for more information.

Address: B2F TOHO Cinemas 2 Chome-6-17 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.moukotanmen-nakamoto.com (Japanese only)

Hayashi (はやし) – Shibuya

No fanfares, only incredibly good ramen.

They keep things pretty straightforward here in Hayashi. There are only three types of ramen to choose from: the standard bowl, the one with egg, and the one with extra pork. The restaurant itself is a small space that seats nine people at the counter. The service is respectful but nothing over the top. This is how simply things are run in this restaurant, and yet it is dubbed as one of the greatest in Tokyo. Noodles here are so good that the day’s stock always runs out even before the day ends. Best to come here for lunch. You’ll most likely be lining up for a slot, but the waiting time isn’t so bad. Since a good number of its regulars are salarymen and office ladies, they tend to finish their meals really fast.

Address: 1F Social Dogenzaka Building 1-14-9 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1303/A130301/13003367/ (Japanese only)

Afuri (AFURI 恵比寿) – Ebisu

Ramen isn’t the healthiest meal. But then again, how can you say no to a heaven in a bowl? Classic ramen recipes are delicious but tend to be rich and fatty. However, the emergence of a more health-conscious market is paving the way for new twists. Case in point, Afuri.

Diners have praised Afuri for serving “refreshing” bowls of ramen. This shop is best known for its Yuzu Ramen – ramen tinged with citrusy flavors. The resulting taste is a flavorful broth that will delight your taste buds, but with a noticeably lighter oil and fat content. Additionally, it also has a seasonal vegan ramen made from 100% vegetable-based broth and fresh seasonal vegetables from Kamakura. Now you can have your ramen fix even when you’re on a diet.

Address: 1F 117 Building 1 Chome-1-7 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://afuri.com

Koukaibou (こうかいぼう) – Monzen-Nakacho

The star of this ramen place is its Tonkotsu Gyokai, and this particular bowl is famous all over Tokyo. This dish is made up of pork bone and bonito fish flakes broth, marbled pork slices, and chewy noodles. It is what they call the perfect harmony of flavors. The soup is rich but never too oily making it safe to finish ‘til the very last drop.

Address: 1F Nick Haimu Building 2-13-10 Fukagawa, Koto, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1313/A131303/13005052/ (Japanese only)

Menya Ittou (麺屋 一燈) – Shin Koiwa

Tsukemen is a newer version of ramen wherein the noodles are served separately from the broth. Doing so puts more emphasis on the texture, chewiness, and flavor of the noodles, while the broth is considered to be more of a dip or flavor enhancer.

If you’re a fan of Tsukemen, then you have to visit Menya Ittou. There’s something about their noodles that makes their version a cut above everyone else. To add to this, their seafood-based broth with chicken meatballs is likewise sensational and complements the noodles very well. As a sweet treat for the lady customers, a free sherbet also awaits at the end of the meal.

Address:1-4-17 Higashi Shin Koiwa, Katsushika, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.menya-itto.com (Japanese only)

Ginza Kagari (銀座 ) – Ginza

Kagari shows off the refined sensibilities characteristic of the Ginza neighborhood. Its main dish Tori Paitan is one sophisticated ramen. It is made of creamy chicken broth, delicate noodles, and artfully plated toppings. The choices for optional toppings and side dishes are the kinds you won’t see in regular ramen places. Its limited eight counter seats give the restaurant a feel of exclusive dining, but for all its elegance, it is quite surprising that its prices are very reasonable, and that the average spend here is generally comparable to other restaurants.

Address: 1F Ginza A Building 4-4-1 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1301/A130101/13153231/ (Japanese only)

Mugi to Olive (むぎとオリーブ) – Ginza

Similar to Kagari, Mugi to Olive takes ramen dining to gourmet levels. Here’s a ramen restaurant with a penchant for innovation, which is not at all surprising since the chef-owner is trained in French cuisine. Nowhere else in Tokyo could you find ingredients like hamaguri clams in your ramen bowl. If you feel like you’ve had your share of classic ramen, maybe it’s high time you try out an unorthodox bowl.

Address: 6-12-12 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1301/A130101/13164932/ (Japanese only)

Shinasoba Tanaka Second (志奈そば 田なか セカンド) – Akihabara

You know that a ramen dish is really good when customers are fine paying ¥1000 for something with not a single topping on it. In the case of Shinasoba Tanaka Second, Kakesoba is that landmark item, and with just plain noodles and soup, it must be made of liquid gold. Well, close enough actually. The broth is the combined essences of Japanese spiny lobster and abalone, two special ingredients known to be expensive and more commonly encountered in Kaiseki restaurants. This exquisite ramen is in a class of its own, and to add to its exclusive appeal, only 30 bowls are served by the restaurant each day.

Address: 3-4-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://twitter.com/yuki19800428/ (Japanese only)

Motenashi Kuroki ( くろ喜) – Akihabara

Motenashi Kuroki is run by a Kaiseki chef turned ramen master. This is pretty evident judging by how meticulous each ramen bowls are plated, how complex the flavors are, and how creative the seasonal offerings can get. Summer is when Kuroki-san whips up a number of these limited editions; his creations depending on the availability of seasonal ingredients. As for the store staple, Shio ramen is the shop’s all-weather masterpiece. It is widely praised for its depth, and subtle flavors brought about by the deliberate use of different kinds of salt and dried fish for the broth, the combination of a variety of domestic flour and whole wheat for the noodles, and the slow cook method employed for meat toppings. The mindful preparation behind closed doors can be tasted with each slurp. Normally, ramen is consumed as if it were fast food. This one though needs to be savored.

Address: 1F Yonren Building 3rd 2-15 Kanda Izumicho, Chiyoda, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://ameblo.jp/motenashikuroki/ (Japanese only)

Menya Kaijin (麺屋海神) – Shinjuku

Menya Kaijin is for the seafood lover. Kaijin literally translates to a god of the seas and sure enough, you won’t find any other kinds of meat here. Its signature soup is simmered fish head and bones, but don’t expect the taste to be the same every day since the type of fish used depends on what’s in the season. To keep things consistently light, the toppings are kept to a few grated vegetables, herbs, and two pieces of seafood meatballs. Those with bigger appetites can order an extra rice ball. Dunk it into the soup when you’ve finished up all your noodles.

Address: 2F Sanraku Building 3-35-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.kaijin-ramen.com/(Japanese only)

Sugoi Niboshi Ramen Nagi (すごい煮干しラーメン凪) – Shinjuku

This Ramen Nagi outlet is reserved for people who have a liking for strong Niboshi or dried anchovy taste. To be very honest, this bowl is one of those “either you love it or hate it” kind of things. Some are put off by its pungent fishy odor, while others find it absolutely appetizing. If it’s the latter, then Ramen Nagi’s is considered to be the best of its kind. This chain has three outlets in Shinjuku alone and three other Niboshi-specializing branches in Tokyo.

Address: 2F 1-1-10 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.n-nagi.com/english/

Chuka Soba Aoba (中華そば 青葉) – Nakano

Nakano is a place in Tokyo with a high concentration of ramen shops, and in this ramen town, Chuka Soba Aoba reigns supreme. This restaurant serves Chinese-style noodles swimming in a rich soup of two base broths: Kyushu-style pork and chicken bone, and Tokyo-style seafood stock. This “double soup” approach is the original creation of Aoba. It was such a hit that it was eventually copied by many other stores.

Address: 5 Chome-58-1 Nakano, Nakano, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.nakano-aoba.jp (Japanese only)

Hanada (花田 上野店) – Ueno

Hanada is the go-to shop when it comes to Miso ramen. Their version is the unique combination of thick and rich soup, al dente noodles, roast pork slices, and stir fried bean sprouts and cabbage as toppings. It’s one heavy bowl to match a big appetite.

Address: 6-8-6 Ueno, Taito, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.eternal-company.com/ueno.html (Japanese only)

Takesue Tokyo Premium (竹末東京プレミアム) – Oshiage

In a way, the dining experience at Takesue Tokyo Premium is more than just enjoying a meal; it is also witnessing a performance. The restaurant has a feel similar to a sushi bar. There’s an open kitchen where a lone chef whips up his ramen creation in front of you. True to its name, the kind of ramen to expect here is on the premium side. Try their Chicken and Scallop Paitan Ramen. It is amazing to look at and mind-blowingly delicious!

Address: 5-14-7 Narihira, Sumida, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://ameblo.jp/yazawa-1215/ (Japanese only)

Price information in this article is as of October 2016.

Thumbnail picture is from Flickr.