(Along Center-Gai, the main walking street in Shibuya, about 5 minutes from the station)
This one is up there folks. Plus one point for the location. It's right in the heart of Shibuya, where the proverbial "action" is. Everyone who visits Tokyo has to go to this area at least once. It's like a rule or something.
Plus one point for apparently being the number one ramen shop according to a Yahoo internet poll. In the bottom it says ラーメン オブ ザ イヤー = Ramen obu za iya (pronounce it slowly and phonetically)
Plus one for a great lively atmosphere. The staff of at least 6 shouts their welcomes to every customer who comes in the door, and shouts there thank yous as you leave. Clever, this shop has a separate entrance and exit, to avoid any ramen related traffic jams as customers scurry in and out.
And the ramen ain't bad either. It's a perfect bowl, just the right saltiness, noodles, and toppings. I can easily understand why this would be given some sort of internet award, though it seems like they could give every shop in Tokyo some sort of award, or ranking, and still have left over ramen ranking king story magazines to sell.
Although I have to subtract points for the super cheesy "philosophy" poster above the kitchen. It says something to the extent:
- You will be surprised your first time
- You will have a different taste your second time
- On your third time, you will understand the original taste
But I can overlook sappy stuff like that.
Dare I say that this is the #1 ramen shop for a first timer in Tokyo? I think I can go out on that limb. Sure, it doesn't have the unique, remarkable taste of other shops, but this is the bowl that will set you on a path, erasing every bad instant noodle moment from college, covering them with that umami you crave.