Ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, with an unbelievable variety of regional specialties and creative new twists to try. So byFood has teamed up with ramen expert and food tour guide Frank Striegl for a new series of videos showcasing the very best ramen in Tokyo and all across Japan.
The first installment is a carnivore’s dream, taking you to Saikoro in Tokyo’s Nakano ward. Here, they serve up delicious niboshi ramen that’s made with a dried sardine-based broth and loaded with rich meaty toppings, including a unique minced chicken and pork hogushi meatball that’s sure to get your mouth watering. Hungry yet? Let’s dive in!
Saikoro is located in the Nakano neighborhood of Tokyo, just a short train ride from the famous Shinjuku Station. This area is perhaps best known for the Nakano Broadway shopping mall, which is full of anime and manga stores which Shizuka Anderson explored in a previous episode of Japan by Food's street food series; however, for today it’s all about the delicious local ramen!
After ordering his food from the ticket machine outside, Frank grabs a seat at the counter of this traditional Tokyo ramen shop, where you can watch the chefs at work. As soon as his dish arrives, the inviting aroma of the niboshi (dried sardine) ramen broth suffuses the air. This key ingredient gives the light broth a slight bitterness without being too overpowering, and is balanced out nicely by the soy sauce seasoning. The noodles themselves are medium-thick and slightly slippery, almost like udon but firmer – perfect for soaking up the fish broth.
Then there are the all-important toppings! Frank tucks into white and green negi (spring onion) and menma (bamboo shoots), which are included to provide some crunch and make a great contrast with the softness of the noodles. Arranged around the outside of the bowl like flower petals are thin slices of chashu (pork belly) that have been seasoned with soy sauce and have the perfect amount of fat to just melt in your mouth.
For extra toppings, Frank opted for ajitama (marinated egg) and the baseball-sized hogushi niku meatball. This is made from a mixture of minced pork and chicken, and breaks apart in the broth to soak up some of the fish flavor from the broth too, resulting in a really unique taste. Be sure to check out the video to see his full ramen review, and next time you’re in Nakano drop by Saikoro to try their niboshi ramen for yourself. If you’re a meat lover, it might just be the best ramen in Tokyo for you!
Want to learn more about this classic Japanese dish and experience the country’s epic ramen scene for yourself? Then take a Tokyo Ramen Tour with Frank!
You’ll start with a chat over tea or coffee, during which he’ll share all his in-depth ramen knowledge with you. This includes everything you need to know about the different broths, noodles, and toppings, as well as essential ramen-eating etiquette. After deciding on the best Tokyo ramen shop to suit your tastes, you’ll head out and enjoy a delicious bowl together for a truly local experience. Make sure you turn up hungry!