I’ll cut to the chase: the yuzu ramen at Afuri (阿夫利) is simply an excellent bowl of noodles, among the best you will find in Tokyo. The shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) versions of the yuzu-flavored broth are light and refreshing, with a nice citrus taste. The grilled pork (cha shu) is excellent – the meat is tender and has a nice char color on the surface. Add a soft boiled egg, a Japanese leafy green called mizuna, some bamboo shoots, a piece of seaweed, and noodles made with water from Mt. Afuri in Kanagawa Prefecture and you have one delicious meal.
On top of that, Afuri’s ramen is something you can feel good eating regularly. As much as I love ramen, it’s generally not what you would call healthy food. For example, tonkotsu (pork bone soup) ramen such as the one I recently profiled from Ippudo is delicious but rich and fatty. If you’ve ever had miso ramen, you might have noticed a layer of oil on top of the soup. These things help to make the ramen taste amazing, but for a lot of folks it is – to borrow the phrase from Cookie Monster – a “sometimes food.”
Afuri’s ramen, on the other hand, is something you feel you can eat every day without shortchanging your taste buds. I don’t know what they actually put in it, but it doesn’t taste like an artery clogger. You can eat it and feel like it’s not sticking to your insides afterwards like the sweat and humidity on your skin during a hot summer day in Tokyo.
Speaking of summers, Afuri’s yuzu tsukemen (dipping noodles) is excellent too and makes a good, refreshing meal during these sweltering months in Tokyo.
Another major highlight – Afuri serves a dunkel beer made by Japanese brewer Asahi. It’s amber in color and has a nice, deep flavor, making it far better than the prosaic Asahi Super Dry lager that you find at restaurants and stores everywhere in Japan. I didn’t realize that they made a beer like it. If anyone who works for Asahi happens to be reading this, here’s a suggestion for you: please sell more of this stuff in Japan.
Afuri has three locations in Harajuku, Ebisu, Nakameguro, and Azabu Juban. The branch in Azabu Juban features an odd but somewhat amusing video that can be best described as a bunch of computer-animated characters from the video game “the Sims” walking and dancing around a virtual town. Some parts look sort of like a dance sequence from “West Side Story.” Regardless of how you feel about the visual entertainment, don’t let it distract you from the awesome ramen.Afuri locations in Tokyo: Ebisu: 1-1-7 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0013 Harajuku: 3-63-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo Nakameguro: 1-23 Kamimeguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0051 Azabu-Juban: 1-8-10 Azabu-Juban, Minato, Tokyo Roppongi: 4-9-4 Roppongi, Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo