The day I had the best ramen in Shinjuku
It was a Saturday night and I was alone in Tokyo. I didn't really have any plans other than to check out my favorite art store in Shinjuku called Sekaido. It was my last night and I wanted to get all the art materials I needed before my flight early in the morning! So, I thought, I might as well find something else to do while I'm there. That's when I decided to google what the best ramen place is in the area. After a few minutes of furious searching I realized that one of the best ramen in the whole of Tokyo can be found there.
It's a small perhaps 12-seater restaurant called Fuunji (風雲児 or literally lucky adventurer). The name is so apt because I almost got lost looking for it! It was quite an adventure walking from the Shinjuku station to the place. I think I walked for 30 minutes because I took the farthest exit from the restaurant. It's supposedly near the station but Shinjuku being one of the largest and busiest train stations in Tokyo, I unluckily got off the far, far end and took a few wrong turns.
Anyway, thanks to Google Maps, I finally found Fuunji. Just when I thought my trials and travails were over, the thing that everybody on the Internet warned about was too true: there was a long line outside. I had to wait about 25 minutes just get to the door, and then another 20 minutes just to get seated as there was another line right inside the restaurant. (I had my roaming on though so I got to video chat with my dog and my boyfriend while waiting).
Once I was inside, I got a great view of the kitchen. The chefs worked in an open space where they cooked everything right before the diners. It was a fascinating thing to watch: there were three people in this tiny area making ramen non-stop. Their movements were measured, precise, and incredibly well-coordinated! Nobody bumped into each other despite the thick steam from the pots and flurry of activity. It was also cool to see them grabbing hot noodles from a boiling pot of water with their bare hands to serve to people.
When it was my turn, I ordered my ramen through the vending machine. Everybody recommends the Y1,000 bowl so that's what I got. I held on to my ticket tightly because after 45 minutes in line and 30 minutes walking I was so hungry! It doesn't help that I'm right behind diners who are already happily and loudly slurping away at their food. (In Japan, slurping your ramen is good manners!)
I was asked about what size of noodles I wanted when I gave my ticket. You can get a small, medium, or large plate of the noodles with no difference in the price. I got a medium which was already too much for me, so be careful about your choice if you're not a big eater. It's bad manners not to finish your food in this country.
Finally, I got to sit down. In front of me were the freshly cooked noodles and rich tsukemen broth. Tsukemen is a type of ramen where you dip your noodles in a thick soup. Fuunji's tsukemen is famous for its rich double broth - chicken and fish harmoniously cooked together to create a wonderful, complex flavor. I have never tasted anything like it before! It had bits of delicious chunky meat in it. Once my broth is almost finished, I mixed a hot soup (provided in a kettle in front of me) to create a traditional ramen soup.
It was so good and definitely worth the wait. The downside is that I felt pressured to finish my food quickly because there were people literally just a hand's breadth behind me waiting for me to finish. I eat fast, but not as fast as a Japanese well-versed in the ways of ramen. I couldn't truly enjoy my food because of this.
Nonetheless, I was happy to have such a unique dining experience last spring. It was an adventure that's as fresh in my mind as the day it happened. ^_^ I'm certainly going to visit Fuunji again - but not for myself! It would be nice to show a friend the next time I visit. When you go to Tokyo, I highly recommend stopping by Fuunji to know what unforgettable ramen tastes like.
If you're on Smart Postpaid, try their Surf Abroad service to find and Instagram the place too! Basically, once your phone finds a local network (usually NTT-Docomo) you can automatically use Internet roaming at a flat rate of P550 per day. There's no need to type any key words. Just turn your cellular data on and you're good to go.
Smart won't connect to a non-partner network so you won't get bill shock. It also automatically resets at 12 midnight (at least when I tried it in Singapore a couple of months back) so it doesn't matter what time or even how many times you turn your data on. ^_^ Please visit http://smart.com.ph/postpaidsurfabroad for more information.
And that's that. I hope you enjoyed my (not so) mini travelogue. I don't normally talk about my travel activities on my blog, but do let me know if this is something you'd like to read more about!
This post is brought to you by Smart.