A couple of weeks ago, several of my friends and I went for some breakfast ramen at Tokyo Station’s Ramen Street. When we arrived, we found out that the Street was undergoing some major renovations and that most of the eight stores were either closed for the next few weeks or had shut down completely. Posters around the station with the tagline “We Love Ramen” heralded the opening of brand new ramen joints and the reopening of popular old ones by September 20.
You can check out the new lineup of shops at the Japanese version of the Tokyo Ramen Street website. Unfortunately, the English site has not been updated yet with information about the new restaurants.
I was bummed to discover that one of the restaurants that said farewell was Junk Garage, which I had been meaning to go to. One of items they served that had gotten good reviews was a mazemen, a soupless ramen dish topped with pork, dried noodles, vegetables, and a raw egg. Additionally, they decorated their store with 1980s heavy metal posters from such bands as KISS. Even its pork-themed skull and bones logo reflected this vibe in an amusing way. I guess I could always trek out to their main store in Saitama, but that might be a bridge too far for me. Two restaurants remained open through the construction: Menya Shichisai and Ikaruga (斑鳩). My friends and I first tried to go to Shichisai (I personally wanted to try their well-regarded shoyu ramen, having been less than thrilled with their cold yuzu ramen earlier this summer), but it was very packed even at that early hour. So instead we ended up going to Ikaruga, whose main branch in Kudanshita has received glowing reviews including from such folks as the New York Times.
Ikaruga’s interior, with its dark wood panels and relatively dim lighting, seems a little more stylish that the other shops on the Street, though it’s still a comfortable to eat.
I got the spicy tonkotsu ramen, which had all of the standard toppings – juicy slabs of pork, bamboo shoots, poached egg, a sheet of nori seaweed, and scallions. However, Ikaruga also sprinkled some breadcrumbs on top that gave the ramen an additional crunch, as well as added some chili oil for that promised spicy kick. The noodles were a little thicker than the ones you normally get tonkotsu ramen places such as Ippudo, and the soup had a nice creaminess without tasting heavy. And all of the toppings were arranged in a happy face. Ikaruga is a great option to choose if you’re down at Tokyo Ramen Street and doesn’t seem to require the same lengthy wait as Rokurinsha during lunch hour. Of course, there are three new shops to check out, along with several of the old ones that I have yet to try. You will never have a problem exercising your freedom to choose when you come down to the Street.Ikaruga, Tokyo Ramen Street Address: B1F Yaesu South Exit, Tokyo Station, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku Business Hours: 10:30am-11:00pm (Last Order: 10:30pm) Getting There: Tokyo Ramen Street can be a little tricky to find if you’re not familiar with Tokyo Station. It is located on the Yaesu side, which is the eastern portion of the station. Go to the Yaesu south exit and look for the McDonald’s. Next to the McDonald’s is a flight of stairs with signs for “First Avenue Tokyo Station” and Tokyo Ramen Street. Go down the stairs to the B1 level and Tokyo Ramen Street will be right in front of you. Ikaruga is located at the far end of the corridor on the left.