★★★ なんでんかんでん (Nanden-Kanden) - Tokyo
Nanden-Kanden is another tonkotsu style ramen chain from Hakata area of Kyushu. There are over 4-5 major tonkotsu ramen chains that are big in Tokyo, but Nanden-Kanden easily sets itself apart from the others by being bold and just all around fun. The store has the atmosphere of an old school food stand, very minimum decor, simple folder tables and stools. I went on a Saturday night and the place was bustling with long lines of people waiting outside and ramen chefs busy cooking and serving the bowls of noodles. The air is filled with the smell of tonkotsu while we waited in line to make our order. We eventually got seated and had to share a small table with another group of people (just like at the food stands). I ordered just the regular ラーメンramen on this day. though I regreted it and wished I ordered the ねぎバカラーメン (green onion baka ramen)
The Soup - was very rich, oily and salty, but surprisingly not filled with the overwhelming tonkotsu smell that filled the store. Whatever smell that was left in the soup was easily nuetralized by the tons of toppings that you can put into the soup, from beni-shoga (sweet pickled ginger), takana (pickled vegetables), and raw garlic. You can order your soup to come in different levels of oiliness from, 脂抜き(abura-nuki, no oil), 脂少なめ(abura-sukuname, little oil), こってり(kotteri, oily), and すごくこってり(sugoku-kotteri, very oily). I ordered the default which is kotteri.
The Noodles - were the standard thin straight noodles often used in tonkotsu ramen. You can order the noodles at different firmness from やわめん(yawa-men, soft), 普通めん(futsuu-men, regular), はりがね(harigane, firm), and 粉落とし(kona-otoshi, very firm). I ordered the kona-otoshi, which literally means "washing the flour off the noodles", where they only boil the noodles for a few seconds. The default is the futsuu-men but I ordered the kona-otoshi or very firm.
The Toppings - are very different this is where Nanden-Kanden has a lot of fun with its ramen. I ordered the boring simple ramen that comes with green onions, nori dried seaweed, sesame and some deep fried onions. Check out the toppings for the other types ramen from left to right: のりバカラーメン (nori-baka ramen, all dried seaweed) ねぎバカラーメン (negi-baka ramen, all green onions), and 玉子バカラーメン (tamago-baka ramen, all boiled eggs).
You can also add as pickled sweet ginger, takana, sesame, and garlic as you want.
Overall - Nanden-Kenden is one my favorite tonkotsu ramen place. The ramen itself might be heavy for a lot of people, but the flavor is delicious, and I love how the presentation is over the top. There were only two Nanden-Kanden stores in Tokyo, both outside the central Yamanote area, they recently opened a store in Shinjuku, but I've never checked the place out. If you are new to the tonkotsu ramen then I recommend you try ichi-ran or Ippudou first before giving Nanden-Kanden a try.