If you find yourself craving some delicious ramen in Shinjuku, Takahashi’s fantastically smoky ramen bowl will save your stomach and your soul.
The “special” grilled flying fish ramen with egg, seaweed, and two types of chashu. - image © Florentyna Leow
When you have midnight cravings, convenience store food sometimes just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you need an actual meal. Everyone should have a place they can go to when it’s very late out and you’re starving for real food. Ramen joints are great for these midnight cravings. Takahashi, a flying fish ramen joint, should be on your mental list of places to eat at when it’s too late for a meal, but you nevertheless need food. (Like when you’re jet-lagged. Or drunk.)
Everyone’s heading to Kabukicho at this time of the evening. - image © Florentyna Leow
Fittingly enough in Shinjuku - nearest Seibu Shinjuku Station. If you’re coming from JR Shinjuku Station, take the East Exit. Turn left, and then take the next crossing on your right.
The post-work crowd around the east side of Shinjuku. - image © Florentyna Leow
Keep walking straight, crossing the road and entering the street ahead - the one with the tree.
Crossing the road towards Kabukicho. - image © Florentyna Leow
Follow the street all the way down and you’ll come to a large crossing that leads you to the Kabukicho district. Cross the street, but don’t enter Godzilla Road. Turn left. Keep walking, and turn right on the street corner.
The nearest station is really Seibu Shinjuku, but most people are probably walking from Shinjuku Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Keep walking down. You’ll pass Seibu Shinjuku Station on your left. You’ll know you’re going the right way when you see McDonald’s.
Opposite 7-11 is an outlet of Karaokekan, a chain of karaoke shops. - image © Florentyna Leow
Turn right when you see the 7-11. You’ll see Takahashi down the side alley directly on your left.
Takahashi is quite compact, set into the side of a building. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you do end up there at a socially acceptable time for dinner - like 6.45pm - there might be a longish queue. But the nature of eating ramen, especially at a counter-only place, is such that the queue moves along reasonably quickly.
A sign in Japanese, English, and Chinese. - image © Florentyna Leow
Shinjuku is quite popular with tourists and there's signage in all languages, but it looks like a mostly local place nonetheless.
An English-language menu next to the ramen ticket machine makes it easier to identify the buttons. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll need to buy your ramen ticket before standing in line. It’s easy, as there are photos of all the dishes and toppings on the buttons. Just slot your money in and press some buttons. Don't forget to take your change. If you decide that you want more food once you're inside, they’ll take extra orders at the counter.
The inside of Takahashi looks more like a stylish bar. - image © Florentyna Leow
While you’re waiting in line, a staff member will come out to collect your meal ticket. In winter, there are electric heaters at your feet near the door - a rather considerate touch.
There are dried prawns on top, but you can ask for them to be removed. - image © Florentyna Leow
I ordered the 得 “special” with everything on it. The pork slices are tasty enough. The egg is not bad - a little overdone for my liking - and the bamboo shoots are forgettable. I like that they throw on some mizuna greens. But the star of the show is the gorgeous flying fish broth and the noodles.
A close-up shot of the marinated egg - just a shade overdone. - image © Florentyna Leow
The noodles are thick and wavy, with a glossy, slippery mouthfeel when you slurp them down. And the broth, made from dried, grilled flying fish, is rich, sweet and smoky, packed with umami. It’s just wonderful.
Chopsticks are in the drawer. - image © Florentyna Leow
In front of you when you’re seated a the counter are wooden condiment trays. There’s wasabi, round arare rice crackers, yuzu kosho (spicy yuzu and pepper paste), garlic paste, black pepper, and shichimi seven spice pepper. All can be added to your ramen broth as you please.
A Japanese-style chashu rice bowl topped with grated daikon radish. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you have the stomach space for it alongside your ramen, order a rice bowl to go with it. This time I tried the Japanese-style chashu - chunks of pork braised in salty-sweet soy. It’s not bad, but I might have something a little lighter next time, like the whitebait rice bowl.
After you finish your noodles, make some chazuke. - image © Florentyna Leow
The primary reason to order a rice bowl - or just rice, if you’re so inclined - is because it’s so damned good with the broth. You’re essentially making a makeshift ramen broth chazuke (tea rice). What you want to do is dollop some hot white rice into the remaining broth and season it further. Throw in some garlic to ward off the vampires. Some rice crackers for crunch. A little yuzu pepper and a ton of black pepper for a spicy citrus kick.
But look at those beautifully elastic noodles! - image © Florentyna Leow
The really important thing about Takahashi is not that it is a good bowl of ramen. (It is, of course. But there are many, many great bowls of ramen in Tokyo.) It’s that it’s a fantastic ramen place that's open until 5am, and it will save you when you’re coming out of that drunken haze at 2 in the morning, wandering around the neon-lit streets of Kabukicho, unsure as to how you ended up there.
Name in Japanese:
1F KK Building, 1-27-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1-27-3 KKビル 1F
Seibu Shinjuku, Shinjuku
+81 3 6457 3328
:: Read customer reviews of Takahashi on TripAdvisor
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