So, let’s start with the verdict first. Does Tsuta Ramen, the first Michelin-starred ramen in the world live up to the hype (and it’s aggressive line up/waiting period)? If you just want a one word answer, the answer is YES.
Here is the explanation why: while I’ve had a lot of ramen in my life, I have not found a ramen restaurant that incorporates truffle as intricately as Tsuta. Furthermore, the broth is not overwhelmingly oily, as it usually is with a lot of other ramen joints. Lastly, I don’t even need to get into how light the clam and chicken broth was, and how they were able to infuse that with so much umami flavour. More about the ramen later…
How to Get to Tsuta Ramen by Subway
Tsuta Ramen is located just minutes away from the Sugamo Station on the Yamanote train line. Take the South Exit (as indicated in the photo).
Walk straight from the South Exit until you see this intersection and turn left (head down that street). Walk a little bit and take the first right. That’s it! You’ll see Tsuta Ramen on your left hand side.
It’s easy to miss this restaurant so make sure to look out for this storefront.
How to Line Up (There is a whole ticket system)
Read this before you go so you don’t waste your time!! They have a ticket system and this is the only way to snag a bowl of that Michelin-starred ramen. On the day I went, I saw so many people just come to the restaurant thinking they can walk right in or wait in line for 15 minutes. Nope. They had to leave and some said it was their last day in Japan 🙁 So don’t let that happen to you! Go right when they open in the morning (around 8am) to snag a slot for later in the day. They collect 1000 yen when you get there as a deposit and they’ll give it back to you when you come back for your time slot.
I got there at 9am and got a slot for 2pm. Between that time, you can walk around and leave the area so feel free to explore! Honestly there isn’t too much to do around the Sugamo station area so we went to visit the Pokemon Mega Center a few stations away.
When we came back at 2pm, we were told to stand in line right next to the restaurant (in front of a residential apartment building) with all the other people that also have the 2pm slot card. In total, we waited for an hour in the line up before we got in. So be forewarned, this is a half day/full day type of event. It’s not for the faint of heart but I can assure you, it’s worth your while if you decide to tough it out.
Here is a little background information on the restaurant and their menu. Their most luxurious ramen is the Charsiu Wonton Ajitama Shoyu Soba (1,700 yen/$20 CAD). Honestly, just get this one. Meta Knight (my bf) got it thinking most expensive = best and he was correct. I cheaped out and got the Wonton Shoyu Soba (1,100 yen/ $13 CAD) and while it was still the most amazing ramen I’ve ever had, I could’ve gotten more charsiu (pork), braised pork, and an egg in my ramen.
While still in line, you’ll be asked to select and pay for the food you want at the machine near the entrance. When it’s time, you’ll get seated and the food will come very promptly. One thing I noticed about the atmosphere is that it was very chill and relaxed. There were only around 8 seats in the entire restaurant, and no one seemed to be rushing AT ALL about trying to get more customers through. In fact, the host had a bit of a pretentious attitude every time we talked to him and made you feel like he didn’t care for your business. That was the only aspect of the entire Tsuta experience that I didn’t quite like.
Worth the Hype?
As mentioned, I got the Charsiu Wonton Shoyu Soba (+ Egg) which consisted of roast pork, braised pork, bamboo shoot, wontons, onion, seaweed, and my added egg. The shoyu soy sauce broth was made with clams and chicken – a unique and lighter take on the traditional pork based broth I’m used to. They topped the whole bowl off with truffle powder (not oil) which was the one element that made the ramen SING. Honestly, it was like heaven in my mouth, and from start to finish, I could not stop smiling and nodding my head in agreement of what is literally the best ramen I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Meta Knight’s larger Charsiu Wonton Ajitama Shoyu Soba consisted of everything I had, but more. It doesn’t look too different from mine in pictures but having two more wontons, an egg, and two more slice of pork was a big deal when you’re talking about the best ramen you’ve ever had. I really wish I got this instead. 🙁
While not a pretty picture, I wanted to highlight how beautiful these wontons were. Sure. they were juicy and delicious. But what I liked most was their incredibly long wrapper skin. The silky wrapper skin draped across the entire bowl from end to end and slurping it up was oh so fulfilling.
If you’re visiting Tokyo soon and want to visit a Michelin-Starred restaurant without breaking the bank, I would HIGHLY recommend giving Tsuta Ramen a try. If you love truffle or ramen, I would say the same thing. Just make sure to follow my system on getting the tickets in the morning, and go back a bit earlier before your scheduled time to avoid the 1 hour line up like me.
Last tip: Bring home Tsuta ramen by going to 7-Eleven and getting their instant version! It’s only available in Japan and it tastes SO friggin good! Read my review on the Instant Tsuta ramen here.
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