Monday, May 5, 2014
Menya Musashi Ramen in Shinjuku
at 10:40 PM
The number one new food we found this trip to Japan was Menya Musashi in Shinjuku. After we came home from our last time in Tokyo, I really regretted not finding and eating more ramen in the city. Which is weird, because, well - ramen is all over. So this time around, I knew that I wanted to eat and eat and eat those yummy noodles in delicious broth.
Enter Menya Musashi! I found out about the restaurant by Googling something like "really good ramen in Shinjuku" or something like that and this one showed up on a ton of lists. It wasn't too far from our hotel, so I knew we had to find it.
Lucky for us, I have a good friend from Japan that used to work right around the corner from the ramen shop, so she let me know some pretty simple walking directions. Here is a link to the address on Google Maps.
Right before you cross underneath the bridge dividing East and West Shinjuku, locate the tall TANO building with the green dog pushing a shopping cart. (You want to be on the West/Nishi Shinjuku side of the train tracks.) Walk towards the TANO building (across the wide crosswalk and towards the building with the Evangelion pilot statues), and keep walking on the sidewalk directly to the left with the TANO building on your right. Walk a few more blocks until you see signs for Sakura House and a Sunkus conbini on the corner. Turn right at the Sunkus into the side street and you'll see Menya Musashi right away.
As a non-Japanese speaker, it's a little intimidating to walk into a restaurant without seeing what's inside first. But I promise, you'll be ok! Push through the red curtains and walk up the couple stairs and you'll immediately see a ticket machine with photos of delicious noodles, as well as one long counter and friendly-and-loud workers in red shirts.
As you can see, the meals are not that expensive. The top left button will get you a ticket for the dipping noodles (tsukemen) and the one next to it will be a big bowl of noodles in broth. The yellow button in the bottom right is ビール - beer! Put your money in first, select your meal, and a ticket will spit out.
Here is the ticket I got for the second option. If all the seats are full, move all the way to the end of the area behind the counter and wait for the servers to take your ticket and tell you where to sit. If there are open seats, the servers will take your tickets and ask you some questions about what you're eating and then seat you.
I found a blog that told me some Japanese answers, but the handful of times that I went there the servers asked in English. I did try to answer the questions in Japanese, though - asari broth and nami size. The amount of travel websites that Menya Musashi is featured on has probably increased the foreign traffic in the restaurant by a lot, so they are more than likely used to gaijin visiting. They asked us what type of broth we wanted (stronger or lighter flavor) and what size (medium or large). Everything is delicious, so go ahead and pick what you want.
The tsukemen (above) was very delicious, too. The pork that comes with both the ramen and the dipping noodles is pretty amazing (fatty and flavorful), but the eggs were my favorite. We loved it at Menya Musashi so much that we ended up eating there three times during our trip. It was inexpensive, fast, easy, and super yummy. The longest we had to wait for seats was only about 15 minutes, and that was because we were there right around lunch time.
Menya Musashi ramen is named after a famous samurai and the decor of the restaurant is full of movie posters and art featuring double-handed sword-wielding figures. Another notable quality of the shop (one that is mentioned on many food blogs!) is the energy level of the chefs. The workers are shout in unison as the noodles are strained and poured into each bowl.
I definitely recommend visiting if you are ever in Tokyo. It's a short walk from the station (no more than 10 minutes) and is well-worth the money and time it would take to find it.