The Japanese, in general, don’t tend to like spicy food as much as other countries. Indian and Korean restaurants sometimes “tone down” their level of spice to adhere to local tastes, and what restaurants warn as “spicy” usually tends to be quite mild. With the exception of Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, which does add a high spice level to its curry, spicy food is therefore relatively hard to come by in a typical Japanese restaurant.
Many ramen restaurants offer tantanmen, a ramen that is known for being spicy and that usually contains onion and minced beef. I ordered the hottest level of tantanmen at a restaurant called COUKI, expecting it to have a pleasant tang and not much else. How wrong I was! If you’d like to try some really hot and spicy ramen, visit this restaurant in Meguro, Tokyo.
COUKI Shisen Menjo is a corner ramen shop about a five-minute walk from Gakugei-daigaku Station on the Toyoko Line. It offers different levels of spicy ramen, dipping tsukemen noodles, gyoza dumplings, and various side dishes. It is open every day from 11:00 AM until 4:00 AM, and they have an English menu. The restaurant can only seat 10 people, so try to avoid busy evening hours so that you’re more likely to get a seat.
The spiciest ramen on the menu is the hot sesame ramen “rekka” at 840 yen. It’s another 100 yen for extra noodles, but the standard size has plenty of noodles included.
I was expecting the normal level of spice found in any ramen restaurant but I was pleasantly surprised by this hot dish! The restaurant takes pride in its many spices and I found myself sniffling and red-faced as I battled through the noodles, and my lips burned for several minutes afterwards. It was definitely a challenge, but a delicious one! As a big fan of spicy food, it wasn’t inedible but it took me longer than usual to finish it.
The hosomen (thin noodles) themselves were delicious with a generous helping of meat and onions. The dish even included extra chili peppers on top! Toppings such as extra meat and a boiled egg can be added for a couple of hundred yen. If you love spicy food, definitely give this “rekka” a try!
COUKI also offers an interesting black ramen as well as delicious dumplings, which look different to the usual gyoza you can buy. These treats were filled with fresh vegetables and came soaked in sauce. It was only 190 yen for three of these dumplings and you can also order a dish of five. Meat on top of rice is also on offer here as well as plain rice, chicken and bean sprouts, and spicy edamame beans, an izakaya favorite.
If you don’t like spicy food, then there are also plenty of non-spicy ramen options for you to enjoy. However, if you’d like to challenge yourself on trying some seriously hot noodles, give COUKI’s hot sesame ramen “rekka” a try!