Sunday, April 13, 2008

Menya Kissou (麺屋 吉左右) - Best Ramen in Tokyo!

We had been on a small streak of somewhat disappointing meals (the previous day's lunch and dinner), but I was determined to break that streak, and try out some of the great, little-known restaurants, thanks to Chowhounder Silverjay, kamiosaki and others. Having tried out a basic Japanese Ramen chain earlier in the week (and having that surpass all the Ramen I've had back home in L.A.), I wasn't sure how much better it could get. We set out after the morning visit to Asakusa to find Menya Kissou, located somewhere in Koto-ku.

We arrived in Koto-ku, nervous and excited. Thanks to Silverjay's advice, I learned that Menya Kissou is THE #1 Rated Ramen Shop on Ramendb (Ramen Database - a website driven by an *entire nation* of Ramen Fanatics, giving a pretty good picture of what might be good (^_~)), and simultaneously the #1 Rated Ramen Shop on Tabelog (another great customer-driven Food Site in Japan, with great, detailed ratings and reviews).

After walking around the quaint, quiet Japanese neighborhood where Menya Kissou was supposed to be, we turned a corner into (literally) a tiny back alley and saw a line of people. Bingo! We found it.

We arrived early (pre-lunch), around ~11:15 a.m., and in this tiny back alley, in a quiet neighborhood in Koto District, the Ramen shop was already full, and there was a line of ~13-15 people outside! This wasn't some over-popular district like Shibuya or Roppongi, either. Just a small, quiet neighborhood. Upon closer inspection, this Ramen-ya's Business Hours sign was just as impressive: They are open *only* 3.5 hours per day (for lunch), and will close shop even earlier when they run out of their Noodles or Soup! Wow.

Their simple menu belies the greatness within:

On their menu, they serve the popular Tsukemen (dipping-style Ramen popular in Tokyo), as well as having the traditional Ramen and ingredients all in the same bowl. They had a variety of *seemingly* standard toppings (Egg, Nori Seaweed, Chashu, etc.). Menya Kissou seems to be a simple husband and wife operation, with the wife handling all the orders, cash register and clean-up. She took our order prior to us being seated inside. After a little bit of a wait (we didn't mind), we were seated and waited for our order. My Tsukemen arrived a few minutes later:

I ordered it with their Hanjyuku Egg, Nori, and Chashu toppings. By the way, unless you are a *really* hearty eater, I would advise against ordering the Omori (Large) size. It was gigantic, easily the same portion as ~2.5 - 3 bowls of Ramen noodles!

I took some of the handmade Ramen Noodles, dipped it into the fragrant, soul-warming Broth, and took a bite:

WOW. The Ramen noodles were definitely something handmade, having a *gorgeous* texture to them, firm yet supple, having body, yet also tender in many ways, with a great playful chew. It's sort of indescribable.

The Broth was an interesting, unique blend - Tonkotsu Gyokai - with notes of Tonkotsu (Pork Bones), Kombu (Kelp), and some type of fish, maybe Niboshi (Dried Sardines), that paired nicely with the noodles and other toppings. Rich and complex, full of depth. And then the toppings...

Menya Kissou's homemade Pork Chashu is nothing short of ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! The slices of Pork were SO tender, SO succulent, SO flavorful, and SO fresh! Seriously, it tasted like they just finished stewing/cooking it just before serving it in my bowl. I suppose that's the high quality standard you get for only opening 3.5 hours per day. The Pork Chashu was better than all the Chinese-style Ti Pahng (Stewed "Pork Pump") I've had, and that's a fancier dish focused on tender, flavorful meat. Truly amazing.

And then I bit into the Hanjyuku Egg. Prior to this, I had a pretty good Hanjyuku ("flash-boiled") Egg, which is supposed to be cooked on the outside (like a hard-boiled egg), but have a soft, creamy yolk. But the Hanjyuku Tamago at Menya Kissou was seriously like NECTAR FROM THE GODS. The Egg was perfectly cooked, and the center yolk was like a Savory Nectar of Pure Goodness! I know no other way to describe it except that I've NEVER tasted an egg like this before! It didn't even taste like a soft-boiled chicken egg yolk (I've had plenty of those before), and nothing like Kabuki-cho's Ajisen Hanjyuku Tamago, either. It was mild, yet creamy and delicious! Simply mind-blowing.

Overall, it's easy to see why Menya Kissou has earned the #1 Ranking for Top Ramen Shop in all of Japan on Ramen Database, as well as Tabelog. From the gorgeous, amazing texture of their handmade noodles; the complex, flavorful broth; the super-tender, fresh Pork Chashu that blows away almost every other type of Pork I've ever had; and the Creamy Elixir that is their Hanjyuku Egg, this tiny bowl of Tsukemen equaled (if not surpassed) my meals earlier in the week at the Michelin 3 Star Sushi Mizutani and Michelin 2 Star Ryugin (in a different way). It was truly "Magic in a Bowl." (^_^) Menya Kissou served up the Best Ramen I've ever had in my life. Highly recommended!

Rating: 9.9 (out of a Perfect 10.0)

Menya Kissou
(Koto, Tokyo, Japan)
麺屋 吉左右(めんや きっそう)
Tel: 03-3699-5929

(According to Tabelog, they are closed on Sundays and Wednesdays.)


Keizo Shimamoto said...

I waited over an hour to try this place and I'd have to say it was darn good, although I don't think I'll ever wait that long again--it was a very humid day. I would like to come back in the winter though to try the ramen. I had the tsuke like you. That hanjyuku egg was heart warming and the noodles were really really good!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Keizo,

Very nice! Glad to see you finally made it to Menya Kissou! And I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Yah, definitely arrive early to beat the crowds (we waited about 30 minutes). Without the wait, I think I could eat at Menya every day with their handmade Noodles, wonderful Chashu, perfect Hanjyukku Egg and Broth. (^_~) But, 1 hour in on a humid Summer day is tough. :)

Anonymous said...


Can you tell me what station was closest? And the exit?

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Anon,

Kiba exit was the closest. If you copy & paste the address, you can plug it into Google Maps and it should give you a good idea of the area. :) Enjoy~

Mkerrigan said...


Okay so we made it to MK. OMG it was amazing. Thanks for the help! In fact the whole of Tokyo/Kyoto is calling us back. What an amazing place.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi MKerrigan,

Thanks for the report back. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit! :) Wasn't it awesome? (^_^)

Anonymous said...

Wow must try this place when I visit Tokyo... question though, without knowing the language, how did you know what to order if the menu was all in japanese?

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Anon,

I can read Japanese. :) But the menu is really simple. If you end up going, drop me an e-mail and I'll translate the menu for you. Enjoy~ :)

Jacqueline N said...

I'm going to Tokyo this weekend... do you think you can send me the translation of the menu? I would love to try this place. It would be much appreciated... I can't read japanese :(

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Jacqueline,

Nice! :) Please e-mail me (see my Profile Link) and I'll send you a translation of the Menu. :)


Jacqueline N said...

It took awhile for us to find it and when we found it, it was closed! I remember from your post that they were closed some Wednesdays but I was crossing my fingers they weren't going to be closed the day I went... so we went back the next day and waited in line... it was worth it! I got extra noodles and YUM! Thanks for the post, otherwise I would never have knew about this gem :)

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Jacqueline,

I'm so glad you made it back to Menya Kissou when they were opened, and that you enjoyed the Ramen. :) Yokatta! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Exile Kiss,

It's me again :)
your posts are really good for 1st timer to Tokyo!
Thank you very much!
Can you email me a copy of the menu for this ramen store?
I tried to locate your email address but can't find it.


Exile Kiss said...

Hi ES,

Thanks. :) Since you posted as "Anonymous" there's no link for me with your e-mail.

You can find my e-mail by looking at the Right-Hand Navigation Bar (Column), scroll down to the "About Me" section and click on "View My Complete Profile".

In there on the Left-Side is a "Contact" -> "Email" Link. :)

Eva said...

Hi! I'm so glad that I was able to find your blog! I'm planning on returning to Tokyo and I really want to try this place out...I've just started learning Japanese, so I was wondering if you could send me a translation of the menu and what you ordered...thank you SO much!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Eva,

Thank you. No problem (about the translation), but I don't have your e-mail (and it's not in your profile :). Please contact me via e-mail (click on the "View My Complete Profile" link on the Right Side Nav Bar).

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