Taste of Japan: Cheap, delicious ramen near tourist flooded Asakusa

Taste of Japan: Cheap, delicious ramen near tourist flooded Asakusa

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Asakusa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo. A walk under the iconic Thunder Gate, through Nakamise Street and around the Sumida River, offers you a taste of traditional and modern Japan.

Because the area is full of tourists, you might expect that getting a meal here might break the bank. But, stop in a Ramen Menmaru near Sensoji Temple for lunch so reasonable that you might think the cashier made a mistake.

Searching for something to eat while walking around Asakusa one day, I was surprised to see a sign that read “Ramen 350 yen.” A bowl of ramen for 350 yen, or about $3 USD, is unheard of. Ramen will usually set you back about 700 yen to 1,000 yen ($5.25 – $7.25) in Japan. So, the fact that ramen at a highly crowded tourist attraction costs only half or less than the regur price was a shock that required further investigation.

Ramen Menmaru’s extensive menu includes photos of their offerings, so don’t be shy. The restaurant’s regular ramen bowl starts at 350 yen. A large bowl starts at 470 yen, ramen and boiled egg for 470 yen, ramen with three slices of pork belly for 520 yen, and five gyoza dumplings are 210 yen. All very cheap!

I bought a ticket for a large bowl of ramen for 470 yen ($3.50) and made my way to a seat at the counter, which can accommodate 8 people. There are also tables for six outside the joint.

Although you might not know the name of ramen dishes in kanji, you can buy a ticket by checking the photos of dishes with the menu board and pressing the number on the ticket machine.

I handed over my ticket to the cook behind the counter and waited for my steaming bowl of noodles to arrive. Soon, I was ready to dig into the generous serving of ramen topped with a tender slice of pork and all the fixings like bamboo shoots, green onion and sheets of seaweed.

Against my expectation that the ramen should have a cheap flavor and poor noodles according to the cheap price, it had a really flavorful taste. I was impressed with its traditional gentle yet sophisticated flavor, which reminded me of ramen noodles I used to enjoy in the 1970s. 

Adding grounded white pepper to the tasty hot broth made the flavor stand out even more. I might want this type of ramen after drinking at a party next time.

After finishing this delicious bowl, I noticed the anxious crowd waiting to get a seat and have their own deliciously cheap meal.

The tasty ramen sure will surprise you with the reasonable price and gentle flavor. Drop by Ramen Menmaru for a quick rest the next time you visit Asakusa!


Ramen Menmaru

Hours: Thu – Tue, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: 2-15-2 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo (a 40-minute train ride from Hardy Barracks)


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