Two years ago, I went to Japan with Stewart for my birthday around Cherry Blossom season. We are both absolute ramen fanatics and have searched for the best spots for this incredible hearty comforting dish everywhere. In Vegas, we had our spot, Monta. In London, we never found one we loved. In LA, we are still searching. In NY, we love Ippudo (the one in the East Village) and it’s a mandatory spot when we visit (as is my beloved Ample Hills ice cream). We even have the strategy down to a science – visiting Ippudo early afternoon on Sundays before heading to the airport. And in Tokyo, hands down Kikanbo!
So, finding the best ramen spot in Tokyo became an obsession and a fun mission. We went to Kikanbo the day we arrived. I had come across it by reading where Noma‘s chefs loved eating when they weren’t working during the six months they had Noma Tokyo. It wasn’t in the guide books and it felt like an undiscovered gem (even the concierge was impressed it was not one of the touristy spots. They are known as Devil’s ramen as they are usually spicy (you can order non-spicy).People can opt for tongue tingling and/or tongue numbing peppers. Their broth is porky rich and indulgent. They also stir fry the bamboo shoots they top the dish with chashu pork slices that have an incredible crunchy exterior.
Orders are placed through the vending machine like in most ramen places we encountered.
We spent the trip trying to find a ramen that was even close to as good as Kikanbo and failed miserably. We went to Gogyo in Kyoto, known for their burnt ramen and waited almost an hour for a booth at Ichiran in Tokyo (total waste of time and a tourist trap, gimmicky and a waste of a meal slot).
So, I told every friend that went to Tokyo after we came back to try to Kikanbo, and even some friends who are not as ramen obsessed (aka Claire) loved it.
So, when I quit my job and decided to take my mom to Japan (was top of her bucket list), I knew that Kikanbo was a must first stop.
They have clearly grown in the two years – now the space where their original location was is their new tsukemen restaurant (when broth and soup are served separately and you dip the noodles in the soup). They opened a new space next door serving my beloved traditional soupy ramen. We walked 20 minutes from the hotel, it was a nippy evening and we were both tired and jet lagged.
Beware, the one you want to go to is not the corner restaurant but the one to its right if you are looking at the corner spot.
The ramen was almost as fantastic as I remembered and we devoured almost the entire bowls (we did leave some behind as they are massive, which I hope doesn’t ban us from being allowed back) and then walked back to the hotel happy and satisfied. Ramen is not my mom’s favorite food but she loved Kikanbo Ramen!
Kikanbo rocks, and maybe London or LA could open a branch? Pleeeeease?????
2-10-9 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku