Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, in Sugamo. The first ramen restaurant ever, anywhere, to be awarded a Michelin star (in the 2016 Tokyo Red Guide)…
Don't be fooled by the name: you won’t find buckwheat noodles in your bowl. The name is a proud declaration that ramen is so much a part of Japanese culture that instead of calling it "Shina soba" – literally "Chinese soba", a common alternative name for ramen – it should be called "Japanese soba".
What you get are wheat noodles made from a blend of four kinds of stone-milled wheat, bathed in a fragrant stock made from chicken and seafood, seasoned with just the right amount of shoyu (soy sauce) or shio (salt).
This is what the shoyu ramen – that's "shoyu soba" in the Tsuta terminology – looks like.
There's no denying it's a premium bowl. Worth a Michelin star? I'd say so.
Worth crossing town for and waiting in line for half an hour or so? That's what I did. And I wrote it up in my Japan Times column here…
But that was a few months ago, long before Tsuta hit the headlines. Yesterday the wait was a couple of hours or more – as Justin McCurry found when he went to report in the morning for the Guardian…
But today (4th Dec.), instead of leaving everyone to line up around the block (as happened yesterday), Tsuta has quickly instituted a new system. They hand out tickets to the first 150 punters who arrive up till 12 noon and get them to return at their allocated time.
That's a flashback to what Rokurinsha had to do to placate their neighbours, after the lines started getting out of hand at their original location in Osaki – back when they ignited the tsukemen boom.
Update 5th Dec.: my informants tell me the tickets for lunch today were sold out by 11 a.m.. Be warned.