Shinjuku is a battleground for many different restaurants and izakayas, and the true winners are the guests who patronize these establishments. It's a paradise for those who love going out, spending a good time with family and friends, and eating themselves into a stupor. You can find Michelin restaurants (even Affordable Michelin-Starred Restaurants in Tokyo) if you’re feeling fancy, or stop by a local watering hole for a quick snack. But if there’s one thing that keeps the working class people of Japan going, it’s ramen, so we’ve compiled an overview of the best ramen in Shinjuku.
Ramen has been around for hundreds of years, providing comfort to those who grew up eating this down-to-earth noodle dish. It’s been called one of Japan’s greatest inventions, even beating the fast-paced technology of the country, because honestly, who can resist this delightful dish? Ramen is the king of comfort foods, which can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner (or maybe for that midnight thrill... sipping hot broth and slurping thick noodles after a night out). Most ramen shops in Shinjuku are marked by long lines of people waiting for their turn. During primetime, it could take an hour or two to get your fill of noodles, but the wait is worth it. After all, you can’t miss out on ramen in Shinjuku.
Eating ramen is one of the highlights of visiting Japan, but because of the hundreds of ramen shops available and sheer number of types of ramen, the options can be overwhelming. However, most people trust their gut instincts or just jump in any line, because long lines mean that this ramen-ya is likely one of the best. Here is a list of where to find some of the best ramen in Shinjuku. Happy slurping!
If you like chicken and ramen, Toripaitan Kageyama is the place to go for ramen in Shinjuku. This ramen-ya serves paitan ramen, which is one of the richest chicken soups in the city. But what’s really enchanting about it is its delicious aftertaste and the refreshing feeling of finishing a bowl. It has its famous chewy and thick noodles, steamed chicken, perfectly cooked eggs, fried green onions, and red leaf lettuce. A slice of lemon is also provided on the side, and the addition of the citrus flavor cuts through the richness, giving the soup a gentle sour note in the end. You can either add the lemon juice before you dig in or halfway through eating, and see the difference it makes to your delicious bowl of ramen.
Menya Musashi quickly gained its popularity way back in 1998. Their soup base, seafood, and meat have continued to improve over the years, and a bowl of ramen here provides excellent flavor and taste. Add to that their chunky noodles, perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg, and over-the-top slices of beef or pork, and you got yourself one of the best ramen in Shinjuku. Tsukemen is also a great option on the menu, and they also have seasonal and vegan ramen (see our Tokyo Vegan Guide for other tasty vegan options). People from all over the city come here because of its easy access, located near Shinjuku Station, and foreigner-friendly menus in multiple languages. There are always long lines extending out the door during lunch time but, as they say, it’s all worth the wait.
It can be easy to miss the tiny entrance, but keep looking because Fuunji is going to be your next ramen adventure. It was hailed as one of the best ramen shops in Shinjuku, serving up tsukemen, a type of ramen dish in which the chilled noodles and concentrated broth are served separately, meant for dipping. While they made their name with their signature tsukemen, Fuunji also offers other types of ramen. The dipping sauce is made of a rich chicken and seafood base, and toppings include scallions, menma bamboo shoots, chashu pork. Kamatama-men is another crowd-pleasing ramen, which is only served at dinner time. It consists of hot noodles tossed in a creamy egg sauce and served alongside chashu, menma, and sudachi (a type of citrus fruit).
Horiuchi is one of those special ramen shops in Shinjuku that serves very traditional Japanese ramen. Their shoyu ramen (soy sauce-based ramen), which is a crowd favorite, combines the beauty of springy noodles and mild-tasting soup. Aside from that, there are two other items on the menu that you should try. Natto ramen is a strikingly bold take on ramen, with its rich soup, fresh green onions, thick noodles, and crispy nori topping. The surprising part of this bowl is the addition of natto, a fermented soybean product that gets stickier and stickier as it is mixed (a texture known as “neba-neba” in Japanese). Meanwhile, their chashu ramen is a soy sauce-based ramen which is topped with generously thick slices of pork, ideal for meat lovers. No matter what you choose, you’re in for a ridiculously tasty bowl of ramen in Shinjuku.
A hidden gem of a ramen-ya, Menya Kaijin is famous for fantastic shio ramen in Shinjuku. Its name, which literally means “god of the sea,” promises ramen that will make you swoon. Their bone broth is rich and complex, made from fresh sea bream, yellowtail amberjack, salmon, and conger eel. Menya Kaijin’s noodles are handmade and use two different types of flour to get that chewy texture it is so popular for. The ramen at Menya Kaijin also features unusual toppings such as chicken cartilage and shrimp dumplings, which go perfectly with the golden broth.
Not for the faint of heart, Ramen Jiro portions are immense. The small at Jiro is like a large anywhere else. And that’s not all, there’s a legacy of a chant-like ordering system, gruff service, and dedicated fanbase of “Jirorians.” The ramen chain has made a mark on Japanese culture, and the Shinjuku Kabukicho branch of Ramen Jiro is one of the best places to start, with slightly tamer shop staff and leaner chashu portions. Find out more about this notorious ramen shop in The Cult of Ramen Jiro and learn the lingo in How to Order at Ramen Jiro.
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