Chuka Soba Inoue – Eating at One of Tokyo’s Most Famous Ramen Shops

By Mark Wiens 17 Comments
中華そば 井上
Shoyu ramen at Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上), Tokyo, Japan

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).

Tsukiji Market
Outer Tsukiji Market

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.

ramen in Tokyo
Ramen master – calm and never rushed

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.

Chuka Soba Inoue
The kitchen at Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上)

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.

best ramen in Tokyo
Adding thin slices of pork

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.

best food in Tokyo
A bowl of ramen for you.

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.

ramen in Japan
Our tray of 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.

raw garlic on ramen
Raw garlic on top of ramen is essential

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.

ramen in Tokyo
Hot ramen noodles on a cold day in Tokyo

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.

Shoyu ramen
Shoyu ramen

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.

eating ramen in Tokyo
Very happy

I was quite a happy ramen eater at this Tokyo street food stall.

Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上)
Chuka Soba Inoue (中華そば 井上) – You can’t miss it

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:

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

17 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • High Rated Gabru

    3 years ago

    Amazing blog post. Please keep it up Mark!!

  • Eric Pelkey

    7 years ago

    Hey Mark.
    Got to say, love the videos. Great information about food, and gave me a lot of ideas where to eat while me and my family are there. During what month did you go there? Looked pretty cold. We are going the first week in March. Any idea of weather??

  • Lucas

    9 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    going to Japan in a couple of weeks and since I’m visiting Tsukiji market this looks like the perfect place for a quick lunch. Unfortunately I don’t speak any Japanese. Do you think they understand enough English for me to order a bowl of ramen and something to drink?



    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Lucas, good to hear you’ll be going to Japan soon. Yes, around this area I think many people can speak a little bit of English, but if not, just smile and motion to order a bowl and they will understand. Enjoy!

  • jeff coffin

    9 years ago

    my wife and i found this place last time we were in tokyo…530am and it rocked my world! i’m going back in august and i’ll be back for more ramen! thanks…

  • Sascha

    9 years ago

    Hello Mark!

    I am also a great food lover like you and everything you share with us looks so delicious. I have to taste the most of them too one day. I am going to Japan this Summer and I will definitely try this Japanese Ramen at Chuka Soba Inoue.

    Keep up your good travel blog! I like it and you really inspired me to taste different meals from around the world. Thank you very much!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hi Sascha, great to hear from you, and also glad that you’ll be going to Japan soon. Enjoy the food!

  • Sam C

    10 years ago

    We went to this ramen place earlier today on your recommendation. Every bit as wonderful as you described. The ramen actually got better as I neared the bottom of the bowl. Watching the master chef and his apprentice make the dish was almost as amazing as the dish itself. Great find. Please keep up your travels and blogging your discoveries. Much appreciated.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Sam, great to hear from you, and that’s awesome that you went to this place. I agree, part of the joy of eating street food is the atmosphere and watching the preparation. Glad you enjoyed it too.

  • Kioko morganstern

    10 years ago

    Hi Mark !
    I watch every are great!!! I like the photos- they are so crisp and clear, your wife doing great Job,-your detail of descriptions are so yummy. ready to eat !!! I love your show. and sharing with my husband and friends, keep up with good Job.we are planning to go to Japan Spring of 21015,but we are going super luxury trip-staying Peninsular hotel in Tokyo and Hoshinoya Ryokan in Kyoto,we will definitely go to Yoshihashi sukiyaki place in Akasaka,also we are definitely going to get in No#1 Sushi place “Jiro” — then to snow monkey park in Jigokutani in Nagano ,they,re many beautiful Ryokans so we are going to stay Jinpyokaku where only 6 separate suites and they serve fabulous breakfast and Dinner at your room. in Hokkaido we are going to Sapporo,this is the best Ramen capital in Japan ,looking for luxury Ryokan in Sapporo ,- but mostly Hotels. so thinking to staying Park hotel-they have beautiful Japanese suites.any suggestions where is the most unique and beautiful restaurant to explore in Sapporo ? Kioko from Los Angeles.California,

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hello Kioko,

      Great to hear from you. Thank you very much for watching my videos and for reading my site. Your Japan trip sounds amazing, and sounds like you’ve decided on a nice selection of places. On my recent trip, I was only able to go to Tokyo, though I would have loved to visit other places in the country – so sorry I don’t have any suggestions from Sapporo. Hope you have a wonderful time in Japan and thank you again for watching my videos.