JR Ueno Station is called Tokyo's "northern entrance," and it's often used to take rail trips to northern Japan. Around that station are plenty of delicious ramen restaurants. Here are 5 to consider when you're in the area.
1. Ichiran Atre Ueno Yamashita Exit Branch
This branch of a popular tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen chain is on the first floor of the JR Ueno Station Atre. This store has a system where you can eat without ever having to face an employee. First, you buy a ticket, and select a seat on the information board that explains what seats are available. The seats are separated into little booths called "flavor concentration counters," and once you reach yours, you can fill in the order sheet, press the button on the table, and order. Afterwards, you can concentrate on the flavor of the ramen without caring about people looking at you. Tonkotsu soup is naturally filled with collagen, and their special noodles have a smooth texture that pick up the soup well. There is also a sauce made with chili peppers, so you can be fully satisfied with their attention to flavor.
*Foreign language menus available
*Photo is of the Tenzen Tonkotsu Ramen (Sogyo Irai) for 790 JPY
*Photo is from the Harajuku branch
2. Hakata Ramen Nagahamaya Ueno Branch
Hakata Ramen Nagahamaya is just a minute away from JR Ueno Station's Asakusa exit. Their delicious tonkotsu soup takes a full day to make. Since it's made from an entire pig's head, it's full of collagen and calcium. The soup is refreshing and mild, but still rich. The standard Hakata ramen is 500 JPY, so the reasonable price is another one of this restaurant's charms! The Hakata Mentaiko Ramen (850 JPY) has mentaiko (spiced cod roe) on top, and the Akahakata (600 JPY) is a spicy ramen with a shocking yet addicting flavor.
*Chinese speakers available
*Photo is from the Sasazuka branch
3. Mendokoro Hanada Ueno Branch
This popular ramen restaurant is right in between JR Ueno Station and Okachimachi Station. They only serve miso ramen. Their soup is known for its rich blend of white and red miso. The standard dishes are miso ramen (830 JPY (incl. tax)) and miso tsukemen (890 JPY (incl. tax)), but there's also spicy miso ramen (860 JPY (incl. tax)) and spicy miso tsukemen (960 JPY (incl. tax)). Tsukemen is a type of ramen in which you dip the noodles into the sauce. They also offer seasonally limited dishes. During the lunch period on weekdays, you can get a half-serving of rice for free.
4. Menya Musashi Bukotsu
This restaurant is just a three minute walk away from JR Okachimachi Station, and it's also a walk-able distance from the subway Ueno Station. There are only 12 counter seats, so it's a snug yet lively restaurant. The pride of this shop is the tonkotsu-based ramen (800 JPY (excl. tax)). It comes in three flavors: the basic "shiro" (white), "kuro" (black) made with squid ink, and "aka" (red) made with a special type of spicy condiment. Their thick, delicious char siu they offer as a topping is made by boiling pork belly over a long time in a steamed sauce.
5. Mendokoro Haru
This restaurant is just 1 minute from Iriya Station on the Hibiya Line, and is also in walking distance from Ueno Station. It's a popular restaurant with many regular customers. The secret to the delicious flavor they offer is the soup made with broth taken from dried seafood. The best way to enjoy that flavor is the very simple Chuka Soba (730 JPY). The transparent soup has a fragrant aroma that you should definitely try. The noodles have the right amount of chewiness, and they're easy to eat. The char siu is soft and very flavorful, so it's also highly rated.
All of these restaurants are delicious and make it difficult to choose just one. All of them have their own characteristics, so if you go to Ueno, why not go restaurant-hop and compare their offerings?
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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