One of our top goals in Tokyo was to scout out an amazing bowl of ramen. We did our research and Kukuri sounded like a fantastic local choice that was in the vicinity of where we were staying in Shinjuku.
It was a rainy afternoon when we set out on our journey, a perfect time for ramen!
We passed right by the restaurant, as there was no sign and only a small pocket door…
We retraced our steps and stumbled into the tiny, seven-seat restaurant. There were three people waiting near the wall overlooking the lucky ones sitting at the bar slurping away.
We observed the process to get a seat at the bar:
- Push a button on a ticket vending machine
- Enter money and it spits out a ticket
- Give the ticket to the chef
- Take a seat at the bar
- Wait for your ramen
One slight obstacle in this process…we couldn’t read the buttons. They were labeled in kanji. We only recognized the prices.
The restaurant was a one-man operation – host, chef, busboy, dishwasher, and for us, translator. He must have noticed our confusion, so he came out from the kitchen area, pointed at one button, and said, “ramen.”
We waited for a few seconds hoping for more clarification, but when that didn’t happen, we politely said, “arigato gozaimasu.”
But what about all the other buttons??
We discussed the options amongst ourselves. Do we want to go with the basic ramen that the chef pointed out, which was probably a safe bet, or take our chances picking a mystery button?
Thankfully, the guy who was in front of us in line informed us, in perfect English, that the other buttons indicated the extras – extra noodles, egg, extra spicy and the various combinations of those elements.
After cracking the code, we enthusiastically punched our buttons of choice and got our golden ticket to scrumptious ramen.
My eyes were bigger than my stomach because I ordered extra noodles and egg, which proved to be too much, but man was it delicious! I’ve never had such a rich and flavorful ramen broth before. It hit the spot.
Added bonus – they provided plastic bibs, which I proudly sported because I have a tendency to splatter a bit of broth on my shirt while eating a hearty Asian noodle soup.
As you can imagine from the size, this type of ramen restaurant isn’t a place where you sit and chat. This is purely a slurp and run kind of joint, so soon after we finished up, we headed to the Tokyo Dome to take in a Japanese baseball game.
As a side note, we did encounter another vending ticket machine at another ramen establishment, but it had pictures on the buttons for non-natives. But that ramen was nowhere near as good as that at Kukuri; the extra effort was totally worth it!
Kururi Details according to CNN
Open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Kururi, 3-2 Ichigaya Tamachi, Shinjuku-ku,
tel. +81 (0) 3 3269 0801, www.men-kururi.jp
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