“The base of ramen’s broth is pork.”

Uh huh. Well done, Einstein, for that helpful piece of information[1]. Hence my excitement when I got to know of two places where I could enjoy this noodle dish well loved by the likes of Uzumaki Naruto[2]. One was the shokudō at Tōkyō University which has halal broth and chicken to boot. The other was an establishment in Shinjuku called Menya Kaijin recommended by a senior from my days in SDAR. I wasn’t gonna spend all 8 days in Japan eating ramen, so knowing these two places sufficed.

The shokudō at Tōdai was pretty much open to the public but I went with Farhan-san whose missus was doing her postgraduate studies at said esteemed institution. I got to know of this news from a Facebook post by Farhan-san only a couple of months before my trip. The halal ramen was only available at lunch time, if I am not mistaken. As it was semester break, the shokudō wasn’t all that packed. The broth looked soy-based and the kitchen staff was happy to not add the much-dreaded beansprouts in the mix.

The serving included a very generous portion of ramen noodles and it had corn and a sizeable piece of deep fried battered chicken fillet. Being my greedy self I took two inari on the side and a bottle of iced tea to wash everything down afterwards. By this time, I have noted that any food served at eateries tend to have the calorific values spelt out in the menu. Not only that, the nutritional content of the ingredients were included in the receipt. I saw how much salt there was and suffice to say, I better buy bottled water after the meal should I get a tad hypernatremic.

That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the ramen at Tōdai. The broth had a robust chicken flavour to it and whilst I didn’t struggle to finish the noodles and (most of) the broth, I was well satiated at the end of it all. Although, I have a feeling the two inari parcels helped out in that aspect too.

The University of Tōkyō (Tōkyō daigaku)
7-3-1 Hongō
Tōkyō 113-8654

I was supposed to go to Menya Kaijin (海神 – god of the sea) on the first night I was in Tōkyō. That plan fell through, and on the following Tuesday, I arrived a tad too late as they shut at 3PM and would re-open at 5PM. On Wednesday, I arrived at about noon (not too sure what time working Tōkyō-ites have their lunch) before the arrival of hungry sararimen at the door. I chose to sit at the bar and was immediately given a jug of iced water. The menu was in nihon-go and photos were limited to two ramen dishes. It didn’t matter as the one with the spicy broth caught my eye.

Pointing to the photo I only had to wait for about 5 minutes before my ramen of choice arrived. A generous serving of ramen with spicy fish broth with two pieces of fish dumplings together with some shredded vegetables (no idea what they were – heh). The fish broth is made up of a variety of seasonal fish available at the time. I may be so wrong, but I read somewhere they put up a list of fish used in the broth on the wall, and this was pretty much staring me in the face when I was slurping my noodles[3]. Not that I knew what the kanji meant.

The broth was milder in taste than the robust (read salty) one at Tōdai, and the fish dumplings may look small but they were filling. Came with the ramen was a grilled rice ball/cake with a red mackerel/?chilli paste called heshikoyaki onigiri. I made the mistake of eating it with the ramen, as opposed to finishing the ramen first, then dunk the rice in the broth. It was still gorgeous.

Once finished, I took a swig of the iced omizu, paid the bill to the man and made my way out. At places like these, you don’t get your iPad out to browse on Facebook or spend a long time InstaFood-ing, unless you want to leave the place and face a queue of irate patrons waiting for a seat!

2F, 3-35-7 Shinjuku
Tōkyō 160-0022
Opens daily 11:00-15:00, then 16:30-23:30; except Sundays 11:00-23:00

[1]Meat is an essential component in the stock for ramen. When making a really quick ramen at home, some opt for a chicken/pork weipa stock in a can when one is lazy. Heh. Don’t tell me something I already know lah. Please.
[2]The only reference a typical Mareshia-jin anime fan would know, I’m afraid.
[3]Failing miserably to fit in.
[4]This ramen place can be somewhat elusive even after entering the full address and postcode on Google. The best way to find Menya Kaijin is by leaving Shinjuku JR via the south-east exit and head straight eastwards. You can actually see the place even when standing at the top of the stairs at the station exit, like so: