Best tantanmen in Tokyo. That’s a serious declaration, one that gets your attention especially when it comes from multiple people, including ramen blogger Ramen Adventures and local English magazine Metropolis. So my friend TC and I had to go and check out Rashohan (辣椒漢), also written as La-Show-Han.
Rashohan (not to be confused with Rashomon, the famous movie by Akira Kurosawa where various characters tell differing stories about the same incident) is owned and operated by a former Japanese salaryman, Okada-san, who spent time working and eating tantanmen in Hong Kong. He returned to Japan and was disappointed in the tantanmen offerings at home, which led him to open his very own noodle joint in the Kanda neighborhood. The shop is small, narrow, yet comfortable, with seats for eight people.
TC and I ordered the Premium Sichuan Style Noodles. There are a total of six noodles dishes offered on the menu, including sesame noodle, sour and spicy, and red hot chili. But both us decided to go with their ultimate.
Unlike the movie Rashomon, TC and I did not have differing perspectives on this bowl of noodles – it was awesome!
Rashohan’s tantanmen is much more in line with the original Chinese variety than with the Japanese interpretations. The premium noodles are in a brown, vinegary sauce rather than a soup. Rashohan uses chili pepper and tongue-numbing Sichuanese peppercorns to achieve that distinct flavor the Chinese call ma la (numb-spicy), which sets it apart from every other bowl of Japanese tantanmen I have had so far. I noticed chopped up pieces of zasai (preserved vegetables), a common ingredient for Chinese versions of tantanmen and other noodle dishes, which added a pickled and “more Chinese” flavor. The noodles themselves were soft and chewy, and a little wider than the standard ramen noodle. All of this was topped with ground pork and a few sprigs of (mustard?) sprouts.
TC loved the tantanmen so much that he decided to order a second bowl with extra noodles, having gotten the regular size the first time around. Okada-san noticed TC’s affinity for spicy food and sprinkled more spicy powder into his second helping. Oh yeah!
So, I can confirm that Rashohan is probably the best tantanmen place in all of Tokyo. Its flavors are in tune with tantanmen’s Sichuan origins and taste wonderful, as long as you like a level of spiciness that makes you sweat and the numbing sensation provided by the peppercorns. I will have to come back again (and again) to try the other offerings on the menu, but I probably will feel that I won’t be missing much if I just got the premium tantanmen again. It’s just that good.Rashohan (also spelled: La-Show-Han) Kanda Nishikicho 1-4-8, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Business Hours: Monday through Friday: 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:30pm-8:00pm; closed on weekends and holidays. Getting There: Nearest station is the Ogawamachi JR train station. If Metro is more convenient for you, take the Maranouchi Line to Awajicho station.