It may look like any bowl of ordinary noodles, but Tsuta ramen is arguably the finest ramen noodles in Tokyo. Rain or shine, no matter what the weather is like, you can always see a large number of people lining up outside just to have a slurp of their favorite noodles.
Located in a side street of Sugamo, Tokyo this tiny ramen shop called Tsuta, which can only accommodate nine people at the same time, is the first ramen restaurant in Japan to win a single coveted star in the famous Michelin Guide. Tsuta is now one of the 153 elite restaurants in Tokyo that has been given a single star recognition by the Michelin group. According to a representative of Tsuta, the Michelin group has given ramen a chance to be loved and appreciated by many people worldwide.
What separates Tsuta from other restaurants such as French diners and sushi eateries with a Michelin star, is that their ramen is not only packed with a rich and flavorful broth and high-quality noodle ingredients, but is also very affordable for the masses. Tsuta ramen is in fact considered to be the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in Japan at only 850 yen to 1,200 yen per bowl.
Tsuta offers four basic ramen choices amongst which are soba or tsukesoba, paired with a ‘shio’ (salt) or ‘shoyu’ (soy sauce) broth. The shop features several choices for soy sauce for the shoyu soba, while sea and rock salt are used for their shio soba. Yakibuta shoyu soba is one of Tsuta’s bestsellers, which is made of four different kinds of stone-ground wheat, a clear broth that is a mix of pork, chicken, fish and vegetables, topped with sliced chashu pork, spring onions and fermented bamboo shoots. The ingredients used by the shop are all fresh, and there are no chemical enhancers added to the food.
There are about 5,000 ramen shops in Tokyo alone, and you can easily judge how good the ramen is by the line in front of a shop: at Tsuta you can see people waiting in line at 6.30 am, which is more than 4 hours before opening! Tsuta is usually open during lunch time at 11 am and closes at 4 pm. Extreme crowding is always expected in the shop, to such an extent that people have to line up in the queue for three hours before it is their turn.
Before you get a taste of Tsuta’s bestseller you will have to pay a 1,000 yen entrance deposit fee. The entrance ticket system is distributed at the shop around 8 am so you can get a time slot. Sadly Tsuta closes at 4 pm, but worry no more because the shop has a new branch on the north side of Sugamo Station which is called Tsuta no Ha (click here for directions to this shop). The shop in Sugamo Station is open from 11:30 am until 3 pm and 6 pm until 9 pm on Tuesdays to Sundays, and 11 am until 3 pm during holidays. Tsuta no Ha also serves duck, which is a must-try specialty that is also used in the soup and as a chashu-style topping, or ground up in spicy chili duck ramen.
Make sure to stop by this store if you are in Tokyo, and try to grab your chance to have an affordable and super delicious Michelin starred meal!
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