★★★★ 地雷源 (Jiraigen) - Tokyo
Jiraigen is one of the best ramen shops in Tokyo, I would easily recommend it to anyone if it was only more easily accessible. Jiraigen is a tiny store with only about a dozen counter seating, with posters of great American soul musicians all over its walls the decor feels more like a bar than a ramen shop. On this day I ordered the 我流旨味ソバ (ga-ryu umami soba), or directly translated "my style delicious noodles".
The Soup - is a beautiful, transparent shoyu soup, not too salty, with only a little bit of oil floating on top. But on the flavor side it packs quite a punch. The soup is a blend of tonkotsu pork bone, chicken and seafood stock. The mellow flavor of the shoyu is balanced with a hint of sweetness from 味りん a type of Japanese sweet vinegar. The soup is delicious and suprisingly light, using less oil than most other places.
The Noodles - are wonderful as well. Very thin straight noodles are cooked slightly firm. The soup and the noodles are very well matched. You can specify the thickness of the noodles as well, chose between 中細麺 (chu-boso medium thin) and 極細麺 (goku-boso extra thin). I chose the extra-thin noodles on this day.
The Toppings - are simple, a slice of cha-shu pork, some menma bamboo, green onions and nori dried seaweed. The cha-shu is roasted slightly before being served and is very tender, the flavor light and subtle. The menma bamboo was memorable, big slices very crunchy and just the right flavor that matches the ramen.
Overall - Jiraigen stands out as a sophisticated ramen that wins you over with its flavor that is refined and well balanced. Everything from the soup, noodles and toppings compliment eachother well. I higly recommend this place if you are new to ramen and if you know your way around Tokyo, unfortunately this place is hard to access. By train the best way is to hop on the Keio line and get off at 代田橋 Daitabashi station, takes about 7 min on foot.