Affordable Tokyo Michelin Starred Ramen
Today we will be having some Tokyo Michelin-starred ramen at Konjiki Hototgisu. It is one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo. True ramen aficionados may find it overly priced at an outrageous 9USD but that’s the price you pay to dine with Le Guide Michelin. There is controversy within Ramen circles about whether or not the Michelin reviewers understand ramen. Ramen is a symptom of busy, over worked Japan. It is a high calorie meal meant to be eaten quickly, not lingered over. This causes many to wander about the criteria being used to award stars to ramen restaurants. Many ramen lovers find their personal favorite noodle shops not in le Guide Michelin and call foul when noodle shops that are dont cut the mustard. Is Konjiki Hototogisu the best ramen in Tokyo? Impossible to answer. Is it extremely delicious? Holy crap, yes.
Michelin Ramen means Michelin Lines
The good thing about ramen lines in Tokyo is that everyone knows the drill. Queue, order, slurp, leave. Konjiki Hototogisu has this down to a science and they get you in and out pretty quickly. I think we only waited for about 25 minutes. While you’re waiting you can learn a bit about why Konjiki Hototogisu is one of my favorite Tokyo Michelin-starred ramen shops. Short answer, it’s the east meets west flavors they’ve crammed into their soup. The broth for their Shio (salt) ramen is a stock of Hamaguri Clam and Sea Bream with a mixture of Mongolian Rock Salt and Okinawan Sea Salt. This would already be delicious but then they went ahead and garnished it with white truffle-oil, porcini paste and fine chopped pancetta. Their Shoyu ramen (soy sauce) switches it up with truffle sauce and porcini oil. Then, their limited edition Shoyu bowl is a broth of hamaguri clam and duck broth.
Mind your manners
Once you’ve entered you can order at a ticket vending machine. It has plenty of english and is easy to use. You’ll be directed to a seat where you will see a politely worded notice to customers about ramen etiquette. I was speaking with a major Tokyo ramen head about eating Ramen in America as opposed to Tokyo. He related a story to me about a friend who apprenticed in a ramen shop here in Tokyo and then later opened his own shop in New York. He was shocked to find that his carefully rehearsed and long studied technique of serving ramen in piping hot broth at just the right moment was often wasted in the US. The firmness of ramen noodles is of utmost importance. Once served they need to be consumed almost immediately so the noodles dont become over cooked in the piping hot soup. This Tokyo trained ramen chef was fairly dismayed when customers would get up to use the phone or keep chatting after their ramen had been served. So in his mind, by the time they finally start eating, it’s crap. The note you’ll see by your table basically says in polite terms, eat and leave.
Smell the truffle oil
Your ramen will be served almost as soon as you’ve sat down. The first thing I noticed was the aroma of truffle and the less than usual amount of grease on the broth. The little chopped bits of poricini and pancetta floating on top were definitely a first for me. It smelled incredible. As the sign says though, dont linger too long. Dig in. The noodles are made in house and were absolutely delicious and perfectly al dente. The pork was a lovely shade of pink and tasted wonderful with the broth. We knew we were going to like this place when we got inside so along with our ramen we also order a small bowl of their pork rice.
A simple side dish of the same delicious pork that we found in our ramen. This time served over rice with seaweed flakes and scallions. Delicious and paired with the ramen just enough to leave you feeling quite full. This being Tokyo Michelin-starred ramen it was a must to take some photos. Just be quick about it as the notice pictured above mentioned.
Best cheap Michelin-star meals in Tokyo
You’ll spend about as much time in line as you will eating. Maybe even less time eating. We came at around 11:45. Just before everyone was going on their lunch break. We waited about 25 minutes and spent about another 25 eating. With bowls of ramen costing around 8USD this is undoubtedly one of the best cheap Michelin-star meals in Tokyo. The shop itself is a a bit more posh and clean than most so if you’re looking for something grimy and “real” look elsewhere. If you want to be blown away by some incredible broth, line up.
Tokyo Michelin-starred ramen at Konjiki Hototogisu
11:30 AM – 3 PM
11:30- AM – 3 PM
Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens is right nearby and a great place to explore after lunch. In the mood for more of the best ramen in Tokyo and one of the most most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo than check out my post on Nakiryu. The Japan Times did a short blurb about these guys when they got their Michelin Star. Check it out here.