A different take on your usual bowl of ramen, tsukemen is a delicious style of noodle dish in Japan where the broth and the noodles are served separately. The noodles are then dipped into the soup, and then you can slurp, slurp, slurp away, just as per usual. Tsukemen is a pretty young invention, coming about in the 60s, then quickly becoming a popular take on Japanese noodles. With all kinds of styles and broths to be tasted in Tokyo alone, experience this dipping noodle for yourself and try one of the 6 best tsukemen in Tokyo.
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Not just limited to ramen, dipping soba and udon can also fall under the tsukemen category. Usually, the broth is served hot while the noodles are cold, and will be warmed up as you dip away. The toppings in a tsukemen either come on the side to pick as you like, or either placed on the noodles or within the soup. The broth tends to be a bit more concentrated, so you can add some supuwari into your bowl to water it down and drink once you’ve finished your noodles, or change the soup to be your desired intensity. Alternatively, you can ask for kaedama, an extra serving of noodles, to go with any leftover soup if you’re still feeling hungry.
1. Fuunji, Shinjuku
It’s extremely popular so prepare to wait a long time, however, Fuunji is classed as one of the best tsukemen in Tokyo. Despite being in a hidden location you can’t miss the line, although don’t be disheartened as the turnover is fast. The small restaurant serves two types of ramen and two types of delicious tsukemen, made with a slowly simmered chicken broth featuring chunks of mouthwatering pork belly. The soup has a salty, smoky bonito powder on top which complements the broth, intensifying the delicious flavors as you mix it in. Go for the deluxe special tokusei tsukemen, and you can upgrade the size of your noodles at no extra cost.
2. Taishoken, Higashi-Ikebukuro
Taishoken is the restaurant where the roots of tsukemen all began. Taishoken’s original owner and chef, Yamagishi-san, started the ball rolling on the tsukemen craze in 1961, when he invented a dish named morisoba. It was Chinese-style noodles dipped in a separate soup, an ingenius creation for only 40 yen per bowl at the time. It has since continued to gain popularity until this day, now with a cult following. After Yamagishi-san passed away in 2015, the legend of tsukemen lives on, with fans lining up for a chicken-and-pork-based soup matched with handmade noodles. Using niboshi (dried sardines) and fish powder, the soup is a bit spicy with a sweet and sour flavor, sweetened with vinegar and balanced with soy sauce.
3. Mensho Tokyo, Korakuen
Close to Tokyo Dome, Mensho Tokyo specializes in an unusual soup stock made from lamb in a Lamb Tonkotsu Tsukemen. Mensho Tokyo is the modern take on tsukemen, as you walk through a bright red noren curtain and under a sardine chandelier, where the store even has a research lab room dedicated to the study of tsukemen. The lamb itself is sliced thinly and served chashu-style over the tsukemen noodles, specially seasoned with spices and lemon and then slow cooked. This specialty take on lamb melts in your mouth, with flavors developing as you chew. The noodles are served one day after they’re made for extra chewiness, and you can add green tea powder as a condiment to make the noodles slightly sweet and with a hint of bitterness.
4. Menya Musashi Bujin, Akihabara
Offering delicious tsukemen with a rich dipping sauce including bits of meat inside it, Menya Musashi Bujin is a branch of the famed Menya Musashi tsukemen stores. Featuring thick, chewy noodles, the tsukemen at Menya Musashi Bujin is great for those who like something fully flavored and with big portions. The main event, however, is the specialty kakuni topping: tender and delicious pork belly slices. Literally meaning “simmered squares,” the pork belly pieces are juicy and flavorful, perfect alongside some simple bamboo shoots and an egg. Menya Musashi has its main popular branch in Shinjuku as well as others spread throughout Tokyo.
5. Tsukemen Tetsu, Shibuya
Tsukemen Tetsu has a number of locations throughout Tokyo, a popular chain for tsukemen. Tetsu specializes in noodles made from a combination of bread and udon noodle flours. The noodles in question are particularly thick, with the store offering regular chilled tsukemen noodles, atsumori warm noodles, or an option of both warm and chilled noodles, tsuke-atsu. The broth is deep in color and complex in flavor, combining seafood, chicken, and featuring a subtle creaminess from pork bone. Plus, you can also ask for a yaki-ishi hot stone to place in your soup, to keep it warm until you’ve finished dipping. The toppings, noodles and soup are all served separately, and as a final addition, sprinkle in some chili and garlic to your bowl as it really brings the flavor up to the next level.
6. Menya Ittou, Shin-Koiwa Station
Menya Ittou specializes in a seafood tsukemen, and despite not being in a city center area, it’s an incredibly popular tsukemen spot. Ittou uses a rich seafood and chicken based broth and noodles that are thick like udon with a smooth yet chewy texture. The special seafood tsukemen, Menya Ittou’s most popular dish, includes 3 different types of chashu slices, one chicken and two pork. Topped with a soy sauce marinated egg, special chicken meatballs, green onions and menma bamboo shoots, it makes for an awesome bowl of tsukemen. Ittou has got a long legacy of great reviews, so there’s always a queue but it’s definitely worth it. It’s recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the store opening, if not earlier. Proving its popularity as one of the best tsukemen in Tokyo, Ittou even has branches spreading as far as Taiwan!
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Discover tsukemen for yourself at one of these 6 restaurants with the best tsukemen in Tokyo. Dunk a delicious variety of noodles styles in all different kinds of broth; this is the beginning of your tsukemen adventure with many specialty restaurants just waiting to be tried!
Never not hungry, Lucy is an artist and foodie from Australia. You can find her hunting for the next delicious deal, documenting her food, or brunching. She lives firmly by the philosophy that food friends are the best of friends.