If you ever take a walk on the outer edge of the Tsukiji fish market, along the main road, there’s one ramen shop that stands out, with a constant group of people surrounding it: Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上).
This Tokyo legendary ramen street food stall has been featured in the NY Times, and is well known by all ramen enthusiasts across Tokyo.
Also, it’s one of the few restaurants I noticed while running around Tokyo, where you can slurp down a bowl of ramen, while actually eating on the street (yes there is street food in Tokyo, but it’s not very common).
Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上) is the type of ramen spot where people rushing by will quickly stop, grab a bowl of noodles on the run, scarf it down as fast as possible, and be happily on their way…. yet afterwards, much more satisfied than before.
On the outer side walk of Tsukiji market, you can’t miss it.
The ramen master…
With at least a line of 5 – 10 (or more) hungry customers continuously during open hours, the ramen master at Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上) never looks rushed.
Like a true master, despite the entire line of people taking photos of him (both tourists and Japanese), he remained completely focused on each bowl of ramen.
That’s what really stood out to me.
The ramen master seemed unfazed by the loud pedestrian traffic and the continual line in front of his restaurant; He just continued on crafting each bowl of ramen, doing it quick and rhythmically, but not rushing as to make a mistake.
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There were quite a few different types of ramen to eat in Japan, everything from the thick milky tonkotsu variety, to the lighter clear shoyu soup (by the way, here’s a great list of ramen types and where to get them).
At Chuka Soba Inoue you’ll find shoyu ramen, a thin broth, which I believe is chicken soup based, seasoned with a hint of soy sauce.
As I would have expected, the ramen noodles would first be blanched and then go into the bowl, but that wasn’t the case.
He first added a little mixture of soup and seasonings to a bowl, and then proceeded to blanch the yellow curly ramen noodles, and then plunging them into the bowls of hot broth.
Next came the thin slices of pork.
The pork wasn’t too fatty like chashu sometimes can be, but it was a leaner cut, more like a pork loin.
While you sometimes only get one or two slices of pork, the bowls of shoyu ramen at Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上) came with four meaty slices of pork – and since I’m a meat lover – I was quite pleased.
Final step was to toss on a few slices of pickled bamboo shoots, and a handful of thinly sliced leeks to top it off and make a beautiful looking bowl of Tokyo ramen.
Piping hot bowls of ramen ready, you pay your 650 JPY ($6.36), and take your tray to one of the standing tables, on either side of the sidewalk.
From what I counted, there was enough standing room for about 20 – 30 ramen eaters at a time.
One of my absolute favorite things about eating ramen in Japan is the raw garlic.
I’m a garlic fanatic.
At many ramen shops in Tokyo, minced garlic is one of the fundamental self-service seasonings present on the table, and at Chuka Soba Inoue it’s no different.
A few scoops of raw garlic, and a sprinkle of Japanese dry chili flakes, and I was ready to start my slurping.
The noodles were just what they needed to be, yellow and slightly wavy, and cooked just right so they were soft, yet not mushy.
The pork was meaty and had good substance to it, and I loved the touch of bamboo shoots and fresh crisp leeks on top.
While I do occasionally like the buttery tonkotsu style of Japanese ramen, I honestly can hardly handle drinking all the broth on the bottom of the bowl – it’s just too rich and oily for me.
That’s the reason I normally prefer the lighter shoyu style of ramen; The broth is usually not too salty and not nearly as buttery or rich.
I was quite a happy ramen eater at this Tokyo street food stall.
They may not serve the best bowl of ramen in Tokyo, but I can verify that what they serve is extremely satisfying, and just a good stomach warming bowl of noodles.
Watch the video about this full meals…
(If you can’t see the video, watch it here: http://youtu.be/9ykW8TLFwTo)
For food lovers, Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上) not only serves a wonderful bowl of ramen, but the atmosphere is exactly what you want it to be.
Address: 4-9-16 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, on the outer Tsukiji fish market
Open hours: 5 am – 1:30 pm
Price: 650 JPY ($6.36) per bowl