Ten To Sen
Photo: Ten To Sen Ten To Sen

Best spicy ramen in Tokyo

In the mood for a particularly punchy bowl of ramen? These spicy noodle soups will set your taste buds on fire (in a good way). By Menchuck

By Time Out Tokyo Editors
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Tokyo has more noodle joints than you can shake a stick at, especially when it comes to ramen. The ubiquitous noodle dish is complex in its own right, with its wide variety of toppings and soups that take years to perfect. Aside from the classic tonkatsu (pork), there are also chicken and fish broths, and various combinations of the three. In recent years, you’ll also find restaurants peddling vegan ramen.

While Japanese flavours don't usually lean towards the spicy side of things, you can still find chili- and pepper-infused dishes in Tokyo, like these game-changing bowls of spicy ramen. Eager to sample a hot bowl? Be warned: these ramen really do pack a punch, and you'll love it.

Here are the hot stuff

Ten To Sen

Restaurants Shimokitazawa

Ten To Sen has the most visually appetising spicy ramen (¥950) around, prepared with an abundance of colourful toppings: wood-ear mushroom, cashew nuts, pepper, chives, coriander, burdock, red onion and pork slices. It may be pretty but it still packs a punch. Based on the Japanese-style soup curry originating from Sapporo, the spectacularly good curry is made with pork bones, chicken, seafood, vegetables and a handful of spices while a hint of sweetness works beautifully to counter the heat. Don’t worry if you’re not a spice fiend: you can choose from six levels of heat and order the rich lassi (¥500) to cool your tongue.

スパイス・ラー麺 卍力 西葛西店
スパイス・ラー麺 卍力 西葛西店(Photo: Time Out Tokyo)

Manriki

Restaurants Kasai

While Manriki’s owner earned his stripes at Kikanbo, a popular purveyor of spicy ramen in Kanda, his concoction here is entirely original. The Spice Ramen (¥780) features a punchy dose of curry spices but it’s not all heat – there’s a good balance of flavours from the acidity of the tomatoes and the umami-rich pork and seafood broth. It’s a generous bowl too, with chewy and plump noodles complemented by thick slices of pork, a soft-boiled egg plus a sprinkling of coriander and other aromatic herbs. It’ll leave you sweating, for sure, yet you won’t want to stop eating it.

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麺屋どうげんぼうず
麺屋どうげんぼうず(Photo: Time Out Tokyo)

Dogenbozu

Restaurants Nakano

Dogenbozu offers a short but perfectly formed ramen menu – shio (salt) soba, tsuke (dipping) soba and maze (mixing) soba – but if you’re in the market for a gutsy bowl of noodles, the spicy soba (¥780) won’t disappoint. Don’t let the intense redness of the soup scare you – it’s not nearly as fiery as it looks. Heat freaks, however, do have the option of customising their preferred level of heat: choose between mild, medium, spicy and head-on-fire hot (extra ¥100). Noodles come flat and curly, while a generous portion of pork slices make this a hearty feed.

たんめんミヤビ
たんめん本舗ミヤビ(Photo: Time Out Tokyo)

Miyabi

Restaurants Nerima

Located in a building with more than its fair share of watering holes, this noodle merchant offers a retreat from the drinking crowd and specialises in tan-men, a dish of soup noodles with stir-fried pork and vegetables, which is not to be confused with dandanmen (Szechuan-style sesame broth noodles). Of the eight varieties (including an Indian-style tan-men with curry broth), the spicy tan-men (¥750) is the one we keep coming back to. Rich, flavourful and utterly moreish, its complex broth benefits from a blend of homemade chilli oil and two different types of peppers. The noodles are then topped with Szechuan-style mapo tofu (again, made with Japanese peppers) and as many vegetables as you like for free. Talk about value for money!

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郭 政良 味仙 東京神田店
郭 政良 味仙 東京神田店

Misen

Restaurants Kanda

Misen’s spicy ramen (a modified take on the far spicier Taiwanese danzi noodles) originated in Nagoya and have now found a keen following in the capital. Using the signature Taiwan Ramen (¥800) as a base, with its broth made from shoyu and chicken bones, the chef piles on a rich and spicy minced meat stew packed with shichimi peppers and garlic. Choose between two unusually named heat levels: American (mild) and Italian (spicy) – alternatively, there’s shio, miso, tantan and maze (pronounced ‘ma-ze’) noodles on the menu.

タンタンタイガー
タンタンタイガー(Photo: Time Out Tokyo)

Tan Tan Tiger

Restaurants Ramen Asakusabashi

This low-key Taito favourite only serves a soupless version of dandanmen but allows for lots of customisation. Here, the customer is king – you choose the level of spiciness (expect plenty of habanero chilli if you’re feeling bold) as well as the the ‘numbing’ strength, ie how much Szechuan pepper you’d like. Don’t be deterred by the dish’s brilliant red colour; the nuttiness from the sesame seeds makes it more flavourful and, frankly, worryingly addictive. Complete your thick, chewy noodles with heaps of coriander – or get what Tan Tan Tiger unsubtly call the ‘ladies’ version’, which cuts down on the noodles and throws in a sprinkling of chia seeds.

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Kintoki

Restaurants Japanese Ekoda

This functional neighbourhood eatery specialises in two staples of Tokyo ramen – shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) – yet it is the dry tantan noodles that Kintoki truly excels in. This Chinese-Japanese hybrid dish clearly benefits from the owner’s past experience in a Szechuan-style restaurant. A gutsy mix of spicy homemade chilli oil, ground pork and nuts, the springy noodles feature the distinctive floral aroma of Szechuan pepper, which leaves a pleasant zingy aftertaste. The only downside is that there are limited servings of tantan noodles per day, so best get there early.

Eat better in Tokyo

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Ten To Sen
Photo: Ten To Sen

Best spicy ramen in Tokyo

Restaurants Japanese

In the mood for a particularly punchy bowl of ramen? These spicy noodle soups will set your taste buds on fire (in a good way)

Bookable tours

ramen tasting tour byfood
Photo: Serkan Toso

Ramen Tasting Tour

Things to do Shinjuku

Got a big appetite and an even bigger love for ramen? This tour gives you a sampling of a whopping six mini bowls of ramen. Your guide, a ramen aficionado, will take you to three award-winning restaurants in Nakameguro, Ebisu and Shibuya where you’ll try small, manageable portions of signature bowls. 

ramen gyoza class byfood
Photo: Masahito Hirano

Make Your Own Ramen and Gyoza in Asakusa

Things to do Shinjuku

This two hour class teaches the basics of making ramen from scratch, including the noodles and umami-rich broth. With the help of a Japanese cooking instructor, you’ll learn the details and nuances to keep the ramen fresh until you devour it. 

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