I've been on a tantanmen fix as of late, with spicy soup, creamy sesame, and layers of flavors occupying a lot of thought. Tsugai came recommended, and I came hungry.
Where is this place? Walking down this creepy alley, the smell from a nearby exhaust vent told me I was on the right track. Turns out the light at the end of the dark was the main road.
The menu here is big. Of the shop's regular menu, you can choose red, black, white, curry, or soup-less versions. There is also a shio ramen. They weren't too busy, so the standard tantanmen discussion with the staff ensued.
Can you eat spicy?
Always the first question. Always yes. Though there are a few non-spicy options like the healthy white, I had to try the standard red.
I've found that any shop with the mortar-and-pestle sesame option is good. Tsugai is good.
Very much so. The point of tantanmen for me is always layers. Layers of spice, layers of creamy, layers that disappear and reappear.
Though not as intense as Rashohan, for example, Tsugai's bowl is one of the most balanced I have found.
Go ahead and add the mystery table-side spice. Some sort of salsa verde lookalike. Another layer of flavors.
At lunch, you even get free desert. How good is a black sesame pudding right after all that spice?
Very much so.
Tokyo, Adachi-ku, Senju 3-60
Closest station: Kitasenju
Open 11:00-15:30, 17:00-23:00