Ippudo opened in Singapore before I moved to Japan, and many friends told me it is Japan’s No. 1 ramen shop. I believed it and went to give it a try. Was it good? Yes. Was it amazing? Not so much. It tasted like a regularly tasty ramen so I couldn’t understand what was so good about it.
After moving here, I once met one of my readers who used to be a flight attendent and has since left Singapore Airlines to work in Japan. When we met, she said she wanted to try Ichiran. I had no idea what that was and she said, it’s Japan’s best ramen.
Alright, hold on. Japanese people love ramen, so how is it that many Japanese people I know don’t even visit Ichiran but foreigners can boldly claim that it’s the best in Japan? I went to give it a try. Was it good? Yes. Was it amazing? Not so much.
When I began to take notice of Ichiran, each time I go past an outlet, I realised the queue is made up of a lot of foreigners. Not once have I spotted Japanese people queuing for Ichiran. Because Japan has so many great ramen shops, it just doesn’t make sense to queue for Ichiran’s which is just regularly tasty.
When the famous Tsuta received a Michelin star for their soba noodles, I had thought that must be the best ramen in Japan. At least until Michelin also gave some stars to a few stalls in Singapore that Singaporeans do not approve of. But while I haven’t given Tsuta a try, I still believe it is very tasty because of the ratings on famous foodie website Tabelog.
Average tasting food listed on Tabelog usually has a rating of about 3.0 to 3.19 out of 5. If a shop is rated 3.2 stars, you can be sure it is better than average. Anything from 3.3 is considered very good and anything above 3.4, you can be prepared to either have to queue for it or pay a hefty price.
Now, Tsuta is rated 3.93 stars which is very much unheard of, not just because it is what the Japanese consider B-grade gourmet (commonly available food), but even high class cuisine do not necessarily get such a high rating. And today, I heard for the first time on TV, a Japanese program making the bold claim that this particular ramen is the best in Japan. And that is Ramenya Iidashoten.
Like, Tsuta, it is so popular, you can’t even queue to get in. In order to try their ramen, you’ll have to go really early and collect a queue number. I was wondered how it compares to Tsuta and consequently did a search on Tabelog and found that, Iidashoten boasts a rating of 4.0. I can feel my drool flowing out already.
I definitely want to try it someday. Perhaps you should too. Then, you can confidently tell people you’ve tried the best ramen in Japan that’s recognised by the Japanese and not just by guidebooks for foreigners.