A student had once told me of a place in Shinagawa called Shinatatsu Ramen Street where 7 famous ramen shops were located, all in the same place and I remembered thinking at the time that I should check it out some time. "What better day than now" I thought and changed trains to head to Shinagawa. Shinagawa is an area that has a lot of big businesses and wherever the Japanese "Salary man" is, there is bound to be ramen around, and lots of it. The area that I work in, Shimbashi, is just the same!
Basically ramen has four main soup flavours. Tonkotsu originates from western Japan at a place called Hakata. It is a pork bone soup, and my favourite! Miso ramen comes from the northern island of Hokkaido and is made with miso paste and is usually blended with another kind of broth (tonkotsu, fish or chicken). Shoyu (soy sauce) ramen is the lightest and is favoured by people who are conscious of their weight. It is made from chicken and vegetable broth blended with soy sauce. The final variety is shio (salt) ramen. It is made by blending salt with another kind of broth. You would think that the final result would be very salty (as the name suggests), but it isn't really. It is, however, my least favourite, but if made well, can taste quite good.
I got to Shinagawa and walked out of the Takanawa exit and kept going to my left. I had checked the place out once before but hadn't stopped there. About 200m down on the left, ramen heaven starts!
The first place you come to is called Nantsutei. The ramen here is of the pork bone soup (tonkotsu) variety. This is actually my favourite kind and is lovely and rich and delicious.
Second in line is Nakamoto. Nakamoto is fiery hot Mongolian style ramen. It comes in varying levels of heat. I haven't yet tried this one but would love to on a bitterly cold winter day!!
Next is a little souvenir shop where you can buy make-at-home ramen from each of the different shops as well as a whole lot of other ramen related gear.
Following on from the souvenir shop is another famous ramen haven. Setagaya is the name of this one and it specialises on a tonkotsu and shoyu blend soup. This one ok, but for me, it's a little intense and I prefer the pure tonkotsu taste.
After Setagaya is Kibi. Kibi specialise in shoyu soup ramen. Shoyu is the lightest and the healthiest ramen out of the 4 main ones. I don't mind shoyu ramen for a change every now and then and I actually had a very nice bowl of it for lunch today!
After Kibi is Saijo. Saijo specialises in shio soup ramen. Now probably, like I used to, you are thinking "what, soup made of salt?!". I used to think so too, and so I avoided this style of ramen. I since (because I can't read the ticket machines at ramen shops) ordered a shiyo ramen by mistake and it was actually pretty good!
Next comes arguably the most famous of all of the ramen shops here. Tetsu is famous for tsukemen. Tsukemen is ramen where the noodles and the soup are separate and is a more recent addition to the various styles of ramen. You dip the noodles in the broth (which is stronger and richer than the regular ramen soup) and then slurp away! I am not a big fan of tsukemen as I prefer my ramen the traditional way!
Finally we had Keisuke. Keisuke has a chain of ramen shops of different varieties and tastes. This particular one specialised in black miso ramen but also had a black curry ramen. After tonkotsu ramen, miso is my next favourite but I had never tried black miso ramen!
So I set about trying to make my choice about which one to have lunch at. I should point out that, at this stage, I didn't know what style of ramen each made (thanks to Sho at work, I found out after and was able to include this information) so I went to the only one with an English menu, Keisuke and got my tickets from the machine for some black miso ramen and gyoza (dumplings). Out came the black miso ramen
followed soon after by the gyoza.
How was it? It was good and I think I could taste a hint of cardomom in the soup but I wasn't sure. Where is your food critic friend when you need her? Over in France studying gastronomy! Oh well. I will have to go back there when she returns! Satisfied and very full
I took one last look around Keisuke ramen
and headed out.
Japan has many speciality ramen attractions and this is the first that I have covered on my blog. I hope to do a few more in the future as (as you probably can guess), I love ramen!
Thanks for reading, take care and see you again soon.