Kyushu Jangara Ramen, Harajuku, Tokyo

I am a big fan of noodles in soup. Laksa, pho, won ton noodles all bring a big smile to my face as I slurp down noodles and other ingredients from a big bowl of flavourful soup

So, on a recent trip to Japan with my family, seeking out good ramen was definitely on my agenda. Reading local bloggers’ posts brought Kyushu Jangara to my attention. Although they’re a chain, good food was promised by local foodies. They’ve fed the Japanese prime minister and been served on Japan Airlines

We were due to visit the Harajuku area of Tokyo to see the Meiji Jingu shinto shrine, Yoyogi park and Takeshita-dori shopping street. Conveniently, the Harajuku branch of Kyushu Jangara was located in the heart of the area and a convenient stop for lunch

Now, to a few tips about ramen restaurants. Firstly, no ramen restaurant I’ve ever been to takes reservations. So, get there early before the shop opens up beat the rush. We got here 15 minutes before and had to stand in the queue snaking up the stairs to the restaurant

This restaurant does have an English menu but not all Japanese restaurants do. However, they do usually have photos or plastic models of their food (these plastic models are a form of entertainment in themselves!). Otherwise, ask for help and usually in tourist areas and big towns, someone can converse in English

The custom in a lot of Japanese restaurants but especially ramen restaurants is that you pre-pay for your food. Here, they do take your orders at a cash till but very often, you buy a ticket from a vending machine to give to the wait staff. In this case, the pre-payment was useful as they start cooking your food before you get a seat, so the food arrives swiftly when you sit down. The restaurant is small, so turnover is fast. However, the crowds are managed efficiently and with a smile. They even made the effort to sit all 4 of us together


Chefs at work

I ordered my favourite hakata tonkotsu ramen, their most popular dish according to the menu. The key to a good tonkotsu ramen lies with the soup, which should be deep, rich and fatty enough from the slow simmering of pork bones for many many hours to achieve that consistency

When my bowl arrived, the smell and the appearance alone of the dish told me it was going to be a heavenly experience. A deep smoky brown coloured soup promised much and delivered in spades, prompting me to ask for kaedama – extra noodles – to make sure no soup was wasted. I also love that they serve the belly pork in proper pieces rather than wafer thin strips as is traditional in most ramen places – you get a proper chewy mouthful of soft unctuous meat to enjoy. The nitamago egg was suitably runny in the middle. Another key thing is that the bowl wasn’t overfilled and each bite had the right proportion of noodles and soup


Happiness is a bowl of hot noodles with the family


Hakata tonkotsu ramen

My sister went for a less fatty version of the soup and did pronounce herself very happy with it though I did prefer my more robust soup

This little chain restaurant is well worth seeking out and remember to slurp your noodles noisily as you suck them in – in Japan, it’s confirmation to the chef that you’re enjoying your food!

Jingumae 1F & 2F, Shibuya, Tokyo

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