Welcome to a new episode of Ramen Escapade Japan where your host, Le Captain Foodie, travels around Japan to review the best Ramen Restaurants available.
In Today’s episode, i am super excited to talk to you about my experience at Nakiryu, one of the only two Michelin Starred Ramen restaurants in the world.
Here is my review of their stunning Very Hot Tantanmen, itadakimasu!
Nakiryu – One Michelin Star Ramen :
To understand the excitation around Nakiryu, you have to understand what it means for a Ramen restaurant in Tokyo to be awarded a Michelin star.
Ramen restaurants in Tokyo are everywhere. I would like to compare it to Pubs in London, Café in Paris or Doner Kebab in Istanbul, but no, it is ten times crazier than that. Ramen is like a religion in Japan and there are more than 20 000 Ramen restaurants in the greater Tokyo area only (How crazy is that!). To receive the holy grail of gastronomy, a Michelin star, in a context where competition is absolutely everywhere, means that you have to be on top of your game.
I don’t know under which criterion the Michelin Judges decided to award Nakiryu with a Michelin Star but i was about to figure it out. Nakiryu is located 5 minutes from the Otsuka Station in a lovely and calm residential area.
Taking into account the passion Japanese people have for queuing, i decided to visit Nakiryu an hour before the opening, around 10:30 am … Thirty people were already there waiting in line (on a weekday!). Fortunately for me, it was a beautiful sunny day and i had my headphones with me, which meant only one thing: i could have easily waited all morning.
Nakiryu has a menu composed of many dishes but they are renowned for their Tantanmen. An original Ramen inspired by the Dan Dan Noodles from Sichuan.
The Restaurant is small with a 10 seats capacity. You have a vending machine at the entrance to make your order (Cash only!), and in case you do not read Japanese they have an English menu. Just ask the waiter if needed.
They have a wide selection of dishes: the most recommended is the Tantanmen, but they also have Shio and Shoyu Ramen, Tsukemen, Gyoza, Donburi,… and the usual extra toppings. Needless to say that (depending on your budget) i would recommend you to order as many different dishes as possible, you won’t be disappointed.
Inside the restaurant, the set up of the counter and the cuisine is very well done. When seated, you have a low angle view on the open kitchen which gives a great scenery and an impression of grandeur while you watch the chefs prepare the food. You can watch the three cooks work with an impressive coordination. No movement executed in the kitchen is wasted, their work is clean and lean; The organization and precision of each tasks is outstanding, quick and superfluid (Where did they hide the metronome?). They have mastered their craft to perfection and you can feel it during the preparation of the Ramen, it is almost ceremonial. It is something you won’t notice in your usual Ramen joint.
My Review: The Very Hot Tantanmen
First of all, sorry for the lack of great pictures. I was too excited to eat this amazing Ramen that i almost forgot to take pictures (My bad!).
As with every Michelin Starred restaurants, you can feel the soucis du détail in their presentation: it is clean, beautiful and appealing. After an hour of queuing it was time for me to dig into my Tantanmen and i can tell you that i was really excited to finally eat this dish.
I have ordered the Very hot Tantanmen, it is a variation of their traditional Tantanmen (In reality the broth was not very hot, so do not worry if you are not tolerant to spicy food)
Broth: First of all, the broth is beautiful, the vibrant orange color is captivating and inviting; You can feel and smell all the aromas emanating from this Tantanmen. You know that it is going to be a unique experience, comfort food at it’s finest.
Now to describe the taste, visualize yourself enjoying a hot onsen on a cold, winter, snowy day. It is the same blissful feeling, the warm broth is perfectly balanced, nutty, spicy, creamy, uma-mesque, full of flavors. The Ramen has a unique fragrance that will hit you everytime you sip some of the broth. It is a warm kiss in a bowl. To put it simply, this Tantanmen is what you would expect from la creme de la creme in the world of Ramen. I have never tried a Tantanmen like this one before.
Noodles: As expected from a Michelin Starred Ramen, the noodles served with the Tantanmen are flawless; Both in terms of texture and taste, they are a perfect match for this Tantanmen. For those of you who do not know, the noodles served with a Tantanmen are usually much thinner than the one served with a more classic tonkotsu Ramen, so do not be surprised.
Pork: The Tantanmen at Nakiryu is served with minced meat, however, if like me you are a chashu lover, you can order extra slices of braised Chashu. Whether it is the minced meat or the extra chashu you won’t be disappointed by Nakiryu. The minced meat is really tasty and the slices of extra Chashu are generous and delicious.
Size: The bowl of Tantanmen at Nakiryu is pretty decent. It is not massive as with Ramen Jiro but it is more than enough for an average person. In fact, i was worried about the size of the serving when i arrived and i almost ordered Kaedama in advance (I am happy i didn’t do it).
In addition to that, if you have ordered toppings on the side make sure you come hungry (i have to say I struggled to finish my bowl of rice and pork after eating the Tantanmen, even tho it was delicious).
Service: The service was impeccable. Friendly, quick and efficient.
Price: 900 ¥ for the Very Hot Tantanmen plus a few hundred more yen for some toppings (Tamago, Extra Braised pork,…) and a bowl of rice with Chashu. It is one of the cheapest Michelin Starred meal i ever had. It is also an outstanding quality for value when i think about the average 15 quids i am paying for Ramen back in London.
Overall: If you are visiting Japan and enjoy Ramen, you must try Nakiryu. It is a one in a lifetime experience. A state of the Art Ramen that does not disappoint. One advice, go well in advance before the opening!
“The tantanmen at Nakiryu is like a warm Kiss during winter, hot, pleasant, and you will ask for more.
If you are visiting Japan and enjoy Ramen, you must plan a stop at Nakiryu”
Price for value: 5/5
〒170-0005 Tokyo, Toshima,
Minamiotsuka, 2 Chome−34−4, ＳＫＹ南大塚
Opening Hours :
- Monday : 11:30 – 15:00
- Tuesday : Closed
- Wednesday – Sunday : 11:30 – 15:00; 18:00 – 21:00