Where To Find The Best Tsukemen In Tokyo | CoolJapan

My experience with Japanese noodles went through these stages of evolution: I was a 12-year-old who thought Ajisen Ramen in Singapore was the best Japanese food I’ll ever eat. Fast forward to 24-year-old me on my maiden Japan voyage, eating my first proper bowl of ramen and realising that this was what true ramen tastes like. Fast forward again to 28-year-old me moving to Japan, trying my first bowl of tsukemen and experiencing that wave of euphoria I did both times before.

Tsukemen bowls collage

Many bowls of tsukemen were eaten to put together this tsukemen article. 

Tsukemen is life-changing, and is such an amazing, inexpensive way to experience a combination of both flavour and texture in Japanese cuisine. The necessary elements that make tsukemen noodles are a small but concentrated bowl of broth that packs a flavour punch, thick springy noodles that have a bite and allow tsukemen broth to cling to it, and fresh slices of meat paired with an egg that has a running yolk done just right.

After having eaten at many, MANY tsukemen joints in Tokyo, here are some of my top recommendations for what I think is some of the best you can get, bearing in mind that these shops specialise in tsukemen and are not simply just tsukemen versions of popular ramen stores.

Mensho Tokyo

Mensho Tokyo tsukemen

Lamb Tsukemen with all toppings (ラムつけめん全部のせ), JPY1220. 

Located right behind Tokyo Dome, Mensho Tokyo was a pleasant surprise — instead of the usual char shu and tamago combo at most tsukemen joints, this one was served with a few pieces of sliced lamb, minus the gaminess. The broth was a mix of both tonkotsu and lamb, and more on the kotteri (a Japanese term used to describe rich, thick flavours) side, which made for a refreshing complement with the thinner, springy noodles served here. Various spices to garnish your noodles are also available, including flavours such as a hojicha (Japanese for roasted green tea) spice. Mensho also serves up seasonal experimental flavours here — we spotted a poster that advertised lamb ramen infused with chocolate as a Valentine’s Day only special!

Menya Musashi, Roppongi Branch

Menya Musashi has a few branches around Tokyo, including Shinjuku and Ueno, each with different flavours of tsukemen/ramen, but my favourite has to be the shop situated at Roppongi. On the outside of the shop lies a tiger logo beside a wooden door entrance, and on the top left corner of the tsukemen vending machine lies the button of choice I’ve come to know very well for the subsequent four years that I’ve come here. I can never forget the first time I sank my teeth into that luscious piece of pork grilled to perfection, charred bits on the outside and juicy, tender bites of pork and fat on the inside. I was a convert, and have proceeded to eat more than 15 times here, ordering the same thing each time.

Tsukesoba Kanda Katsumoto

Tsukesoba Kanda Katsumoto tsukemen

Special richly-flavoured Niboshi Tsukesoba (特製濃厚煮干つけそば), JPY1220. 

This tsukemen joint, Tsukesoba Kanda Katsumoto, located in the secondhand book district of Jimbocho was a surprise find. It serves two types of noodles, one that's slightly less thick than regular tsukemen noodles, and noodles that resemble soba, with a lighter buckwheat taste and smoother noodle texture. The tsukemen broth here was more assari (Japanese term used to describe lighter flavours) than the others, and if you finish your noodles and ingredients, ask for suupu wari and they'll add more hot water so you can finish off the meal by drinking a less diluted version of the broth as soup.


Tsujita tsukemen

Richly-flavoured tsukemen with toppings (濃厚特製つけ麵), JPY1100. 

Tsujita has a few outlets across Tokyo, but despite that, it has retained its reputation of being one of the most popular tsukemen joints. Its various flavours come together for what can be contended as the perfect bowl of tsukemen: thick, springy noodles that come with a squeeze of lime that adds a tinge of refreshing acidity to the noodles, and generous servings of bamboo shoots, meat and spring onion submerged in a well-balanced broth. There aren’t any condiments here to put on your tsukemen, but it’s not exactly needed anyway when you have all elements coming together nicely for the perfect tsukemen experience.

Fujishiro Sangenjaya

Fujishiro  Sangenjaya tsukemen

Special tsukemen with chicken broth (特製つけ麵), JPY1000. 

This joint located in the trendy Sangenjaya area places equal importance on both their tsukemen and ramen options — that means that Fujishiro's tsukemen is one that comes with a broth that’s well-balanced and comes with a generous serving of bamboo shoots and meat cubes, and noodles that comes with slices of fresh char shu and egg. It’s light on the palate and an inexpensive option among the many trendy restaurants in this neighbourhood.

Photos from: Jerome Lee