Kujira Shokudo has been open about a year now, and I finally made the trek. Not much of a trek, Higashi-Koganei is only about 20 minutes from Shinjuku, but a trek none-the-less.
In the year since opening, Kujira has been lauded by everyone. The recently released 2014 version of TRY (Tokyo Ramen of the Year) magazine puts them at the #2 overall best new shop. Not a bad way to start your shop's career.
The master, Shimomura-san, trained at one of my favorite shops, Shichisai, and serves up a very similar bowl. He even does a little 手もみ, hand massaging the noodles before cooking to give them a unique texture. This ten second smoosh cuts cooking time in half, and you'll be treated to a much chewier noodle.
A near perfect bowl of shoyu ramen.
When I take people to their first bowls of Japanese ramen, I usually start with this style. The flavors are familiar, but everything is elevated. Every bite is pure comfort, and drinking this bowl dry is no problem.
Many people live on the Chuo Line, the train line heading directly west out of Shinjuku, in more affordable neighborhoods. Not open for lunch, this is probably your best bet for an evening bowl.
Tokyo, Koganei-shi, Kajinocho 5-1-19
Closest station: Higashikoganei