Picking a restaurant
Do not go places that shows big pictures with crappy English outside. They're usually not good. You can check RamenDB, over 85+ is decent or on Tabelog for 3.60+ (Because Ramen shop usually got a bit score boost due to cheaper price). Usually ramen places do not take reservation.
Before you go
Check the shop's twitter / SNS, they usually announce a sudden off time. Check their official off dates and opening time. Best ones usually off irregularly, only do lunch time, or if they still have broth. I tend to go either 30 minutes before open for a good one or very late like lunch time like 2pm.
Notices & Etiquette
Everyone must be there for their own lineup
Only take photos of your own food
Slurp is awesome, no slurp is ok
Add spices after ate half bowl of Ramen
It's rude to change their perfectly crafted ramen without trying it first
Lastly, watch this video on the right way to eat Ramen ; )
You go to the shop. Buy tickets for Ramens from vending machines.
The machine usually only take ¥10/100/500 coins and ¥1000 bills. If you only have large bill like ¥5000 or ¥10000, you can ask the staff to change for smaller bills:
I want to change bills please.
Choose your Ramen and Toppings and get your change (お釣り)!
This differs from shop to shop, usually they show you how many grams, normally a 並盛 is 200g.
Q: Staff may ask: 量はどうしますか？
How about the size of your noodle?
Staff may ask:
How rich would you want?
Home made noodle
How would you want your noodle cooked?
Usually the machine also sells toppings if you particularly like some of its items.
One more noodle
Roasted pork slice
Japanese giant red mustard
A egg on top of noodle like a moon
味玉 or 味付け玉子
Flavored half-boiled Egg
Hot Spring Egg
shredded chashu (japanese braised pork belly)
shredded spring onions
だし (soup stock)
煮干し / いりこ
White pork soup
White chicken soup
Usually 豚骨 / 味噌 is too intense if you're coming from overseas.
Types of Ramen
Introduce types of Ramen with few typical shops.
Classic. Soup with noodle
Cold / Hot noodle in another bowl + dipping sauce.
You may be able to chose if you want cold / hot noodle.
Cold Noodle: つめもり Hot Noodle: あつもり
Soupless. Noodle with saucey toppings sitting on top of hot oil.
Soupless. Noodle with saucey toppings. Originated from Nagoya. They usually called 台湾まぜそば because of the cooking style of the minced meat.
Japanese Soba Noodles 蔦
Flavors from regions
Soup is usually 豚骨 based with dry fishes.
Rich miso with garlic flavors.
Clear soy sauce with
Rich 豚骨 + 鶏油 + 豚骨
Rich soy sauce, sticky like glue
豚骨 with garlic
豚骨 & 塩
Chains to get started
Here is a list of names they are everywhere, and decent shops to try:
A lot of these places expanded internationally, so I recommend to try something that is not available where you're from. 一蘭 is also very famous but it's just me that do not really like the seating setup, and their line is way too long for what you get.
Yokohama Ramen Meseum
You can learn the whole history of Ramen here. They select all kinds of Ramens from Japan to here. Inside decorated well. They serve mini size Ramen, so you can try more options. But the taste of ramen there is fine (3.5-ish).
Ramen Street in Tokyo station
They're fine but filled with too many tourists. Not worth the wait.
The Jiro challenge
It is super heavy. It literally is a challenge. Do not try it unless you know what you're getting into. Also the line is always super long as there are too many hardcore Jiro fans (Jirorian). Learn more about it on the Jirorian post.
My recommendations in Tokyo
Go if you happen to be around that area.
These are not very hard to visit and very good:
|Name||Station||What to order||Waiting|
OK: < 30 minutes
OKi: OK if you come before open.
Long: 30+ minutes
N: Usually no need to wait, but avoid rush hour
Reserve: Get Reservation ticket then come back.
中華蕎麦 とみ田, it's far in Chiba. It is the best つけ麺 (by ranking) in Japan. You must go there before 9am. 7am you will probably eat around 11am, 9am you will be close to the last batch (16.30). You go there, pay first and get a time, then come back. Read this article.
More adventures available on Tabelog Top 100 Ramen awards, divided by regions:
More on Ramen
山岸一雄 & 田代浩二
山岸一雄: The god of Ramen, the originator of Tsukemen. 田代浩二 is his student, who now is the teacher of all the Ramen masters.
The oni of Ramen, the originator of shop 支那そばや, a person he ever respect in life is 山岸一雄.
The Best Ramen
Is the one you ate after a karaoke night out with friends.
No Ramen, No Life.
A movie about Ramen: タンポポ。