With Japan being the land of the ramen, you’d think the country would have a long list of Michelin-starred ramen restaurants. Surprisingly that’s not the case. In fact, it wasn’t until 2016 that the prestigious food guide awarded its first ever star to a ramen joint.
Tsuta in Tokyo has the honour of being the first ramen restaurant in the world to receive a coveted Michelin star (but has sadly lost it since). Nakiryu followed suit in 2017 and Konjiki Hototogisu in 2019. Now, one of our favourite ramen restaurants in Tokyo – Ginza Hachigo – has also been awarded a star.
All three restaurants, which each hold a star in the 2022 Michelin Guide, offer a very distinct take on the classic Japanese dish. If you’re looking for a star-rated meal without breaking the bank, make a beeline now for these stellar noodles in Tokyo.
The newest member of the super-exclusive Michelin-starred ramen club, Ginza Hachigo is helmed by a chef with a French culinary background – and that works in its favour. The beautifully complex soup tastes like consommé. It’s clear, light but flavourful, and made by boiling down Nagoya Cochin chicken, duck, scallop, dried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms, konbu (seaweed), an heirloom green onion from Kyoto and surprisingly, cured ham.
The bowl of noodles is then topped with bamboo shoots, green onion and slices of chashu pork before finishing with a sprinkling of French sea salt and black pepper. Sure, this is a modern take on ramen, but it’s utterly delicious.
This Shinjuku ramen specialist’s signature shoyu noodles combine three types of soup stock – pork broth, wa-dashi (Japanese stock) and hamaguri clam dashi – and then topped with truffle sauce as well as porcini oil for a bold umami punch.
But we particularly love the shio soba, which blends two types of salt (Mongolian rock salt and Okinawan sea salt) to highlight the soup’s distinctive seafood sweetness. The noodles are then finished with Italian white truffle oil, porcini mushroom sauce, pancetta bacon bits and inca berry sauce. This adds a pesto-like robustness and depth in the overall flavour. Be prepared to tip the bowl to your lips to get every last drop of the soup.
Nakiryu offers the standard shio and shoyu ramen, but it's the house special dandanmen that pulls in the punters. Originating from China’s Szechuan province, the spicy noodles at this Otsuka ramen joint have a refined red pepper soup base that’s light but still gutsy. There’s a good hit of chilli as well as a savoury nuttiness from the sesame seeds. You can also pair your noodles with a small selection of side dishes including shrimp wonton, charsiu pork and boiled gyoza.
Want more good noods? Here are the best ramen in Tokyo.
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