Sakuradai is a rarely visited station a few minutes out of Ikebukuro. Most people zoom by it on an express train to more lucrative eating grounds. But when a student of mine insisted that I try her favorite tantanmen shop in Tokyo, I know I had to be there. Since our lesson ends at 3pm, and this shop closes at 3pm, getting there for the 11am opening was the adventure of the day. Hey, Wednesday is my sleep-in day!
Tantanmen is all about layers of spice. It's simple to make something spicy. But to make that spice meld into newer, exciting flavors, therein lies the test.
Rustic tools to crush your own sesame seeds are a good sign.
As is an inventive bowl topped with ishinori, an uncommon topping for this type of ramen (or any type for that matter). Ron Fan delivered on the layers, and the initial spice kick was quickly subdued by the creamy soup. Soon the numbing pepper, wonderful 山椒, did it's thing. An excellent bowl.
Free rice at lunch would be worth the extra 100 yen at dinner. Rice really grabs the soup. By now the ishinori has all but dissolved, leaving its salty essence in the broth.
They also offer up black tantanmen and a super spicy version.
Tokyo, Nerima-ku, Sakuradai 1-6-7
Closest station: Sakuradai
Open 11:00-15:00, 17:00-1:00am