Finding great ramen on Tokyo's east side is akin to finding a diamond in the rough. This part of town can be dirty and confusing, and the presence to too many salarymen means the food can be rather generic.
Speaking of diamonds.
The short walk to Chiranai Sakura will take you through what appears to be Japan's diamond district.
Just past all those overpriced rocks is the new Aki-Oka Gourmet Street, a collection of ramen shops built under the train tracks between Akihabara and Okachimachi stations.
The shops are mostly famous shops that have sold out and become boring chains (TETSU, Nantsutei, Nakamoto), except for one. Chiranai Sakura comes out of Nagano, and features some colorful art on the walls.
As well as an entire staff of females clad in colorful Japanese kimonos. 長野美人!
The menu, though not extensive, offers a few tasty-looking choices. The top-billed bowl is a standard chukasoba.
I was told by a ramen friend to get the 王様中華そば. Osama, fit for a king, brings together some local Nagano specialties to make a nice ご当地, local-style, bowl.
The local, in the case of this bowl, comes in the form of rustic negi green onions and a healthy kick of ginger. If you can imagine, historically, the life of someone living in Shinshu, the old name for Japan's Nagano area, you probably think of hardened farmers tilling the land day in and day out. Well, negi and shoga are both considered stamina foods, and there is enough stamina in this one to keep you running all day.
The negi are particularly good. Rough cut, they slowly melt into the soup as you slurp along. Any strong tastes dissolve into a sweetness that you only get from letting onions cook, naturally, into soup. Take that sweetness, along with the kick from the ginger, and you have local Shinshu ramen.
This shop is part of the awesome Bond of Hearts Group, which helps produce some great shops in Nagano and beyond.
Shop Master's Blog Here
Tokyo, Taito-ku, Ueno 5-10-14
Closest station: Okachimachi