“The more noise you make while eating ramen, the more delicious it becomes.” ~ Unknown.
Are you looking for the best ramen in Shibuya aside from the popular franchises? These scrumptious noodle, meat and broth bowls are certainly up there with the best street food in Shibuya, and no Tokyo itinerary would be complete without sampling them.
Captivating and ever-changing, the Shibuya area is one of my all-time favourite Tokyo neighbourhoods, however its immense horizontal (and vertical) nature can make it tricky for visitors to find specific things – that is, without local knowledge!
Let me preface by saying that as an invisible tourist, on my Japan travel blog I don’t shy away from the popular and touristy places (they’re famous for a reason). However, what can be more enjoyable is supporting small, local businesses you’ve never heard of.
Sure, the benefit of larger franchises like Ichiran Ramen Shibuya is that you’ll know what to expect. But hey, sometimes half the fun is NOT knowing what to expect, having any preconceptions blown out of the water and being pleasantly surprised – as you’re about see!
Can you imagine anyone better than Japan’s top ramen expert to show you some underrated and lesser-known local spots? I can promise you won’t meet anyone as passionate and knowledgeable about ramen than the expert I’m about to introduce you to.
If you’d love to sample 6 mini bowls at under-the-radar ramen shops in Shibuya that are overlooked by tourists and learn so much about this delicious dish along the way, read on for more!
This guide to finding the best ramen in Shibuya will cover:…
I was invited to take part in this Tokyo ramen tour as a press invite. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
TIP: This article forms part of my comprehensive guide to unreal and exciting things to do in Shibuya during the day and night, so take a look for more inspiration in the area once you’re done here!
Who are Tokyo Ramen Tours?
As the name suggests, Tokyo Ramen Tours specialise in small group ramen-tasting tours. Founded by Tokyo native Frank, he eats ramen for a living (really!), is the mastermind behind 5am Ramen and has answers about ramen you didn’t even know there were questions to.
The tours are casual, fun, highly educational and of course a delicious way to spend a few hours!
Experiences by Tokyo Ramen Tours
- My readers can use code Invisible5 at the checkout for 5% off the following ramen tours:
- Sample 6 mini bowls of different ramen on the Ultimate Ramen Tasting Tour, the one I joined and focus of this article.
- Make 2 bowls of ramen in a ramen shop with the Ramen Kitchen Experience.
- Prefer not to eat meat? The Vegan & Vegetarian Ramen Tour is for you!
- Have a 100% customised experience with an Insider Ramen Tour.
- Learn everything you need to know about ramen with the Become A Ramen Expert online experience.
- Use this handy comparison chart for all the Tokyo Ramen Tours here.
NOTE: Before we begin, let it be known I do not eat pork at home in Australia (not a fan of the flavour so I prefer chicken). Most of the ramen dishes I was going to try today included pork or were tonkotsu とんこつ / 豚骨 (pork bone-based).
Sometimes restaurants will not alter their recipes and that’s fine by me. But hey, in Japan everything seems to taste better so I tried – and ate – the pork in every dish. It was all so darn delicious it made me wonder if Australia is doing something wrong with its pork, haha.
Review of underrated restaurants on a Shibuya ramen tour
Meeting in Shibuya
I first met Frank at the Hachiko Memorial Mural, right outside Shibuya Station. There was another gentleman joining this tour, and the three of us got to know each other as we walked to our first location.
TIP: Here are the definitions of words to describe the broths in ramen dishes on this tour:
Sampling Hokkaido classics at the first of 3 ramen restaurants in Shibuya
Walking up one of the narrowest staircases I’ve ever seen, our first stop was a Hokkaido-themed ramen shop. As Japan’s northernmost island, it gets bitterly cold in winter and a nice hot bowl of ramen is the ideal way for locals to warm up.
I was able to choose two from four Hokkaido-style ramen dishes this shop specialises in. As we waited for our dishes to be prepared fresh, Frank provided us with a fun little Hokkaido pop quiz to test our knowledge about Japan.
Soon after, our dishes arrived. I had ordered the miso and shoyu ramen bowls. The miso ramen was rich in flavour and had a little kick, while the noodles were firmer. The shoyu ramen had a burnt, smoky flavour (in a good way!) Superb.
As we were sampling these bowls, Frank shared the history of ramen in Japan. He detailed its origins; its growing popularity in Japan from the early 19th century to different types of dishes created over the decades up to the 21st century; the influence each region had on its own version of the dish. This was very interesting.
TIP: You may understand why the word “ramen” ラーメン in Japanese is written in Katakana after this (my guide to basic Japanese for tourists explains the 3 alphabets). Frank also shared a great tip for the best thing to order from a ramen vending machine if you’re ever unsure!
Sound good so far?
Use code Invisible5 to receive 5% off the price of your tour!
Enjoying Fukuoka style fusion at the next Shibuya ramen restaurant
On the way to our second ramen shop, Frank pointed out a ramen vending machine on the street. The contents are frozen and the idea is to purchase the components to cook at home. Gosh I love vending machines in Japan.
This restaurant specialises in tonkotsu ramen and experiments with unusual flavours that all seem to work so well together. From black squid ink, pork back fat, red chilli with yakiniku BBQ sauce to Italian inspired, it was quite difficult to select just two!
I ended up opting for their signature ramen, original pork back fat with rich broth. And my Italian genes could not resist the bright green bowl of basil, parmesan cheese and topped with bacon bits.
For someone who doesn’t usually enjoy eating pork, I was SO surprised at just how succulent and tasty the meat pieces were. And, the basil pesto ramen was an absolute highlight! I LOVE basil flavoured things so the fusion with ramen was executed perfectly. Very delightful!
TIP: As we were eating, Frank shared some ramen trends throughout the 20th century until today. The evolution of ramen in Japan from a beloved dish once cooked rapidly on the streets to various kinds of proteins, noodle styles and flavours was fascinating.
Experimenting with curries & definitions of ramen in Shibuya
For the last of our ramen restaurants, we quickly jumped on the Metro to the next suburb. This shop specialises in spicy and curry flavoured ramen, and I was really looking forward to sampling these last two mini bowls.
I was able to select from a signature curry, black sesame curry base, oil concentrate curry soba (buckwheat noodles) or a spicy red miso flavours. Opting for the signature curry and black sesame dishes, I longed to try the hard-boiled egg topping as Japanese eggs are the tastiest I’ve had anywhere.
TIP: Frank explained the types of things that go into preparing Japanese ramen whilst we were waiting – from the types of sauces and proteins, noodle thickness and style to different types of toppings. So many things I hadn’t really thought of!
From the knowledge we’d gained on the tour, it was then up to us to define what noodle dishes we would consider to be ramen or not in a fun little quiz.
When eating the black sesame ramen, I realised it was much spicier than I thought despite it not being the spiciest dish on offer! The flavour was great, slightly nutty from the sesame seeds but keep that in mind. However, the signature curry ramen was amazing! Just the right amount of heat with a creamy broth. Delicious.
TIP: These 6 mini bowls of ramen are very filling, so make sure you arrive quite hungry. And according to my Japanese etiquette tips, don’t forget to loudly slurp your noodles as a sign of appreciation to the chef!
The best ramen in Tokyo? Concluding this exceptional ramen in Shibuya tour
I was thoroughly impressed with my Tokyo Ramen Tours experience. It’s very obvious Frank absolutely LOVES ramen, his passion effortlessly shines through with every word.
I’d never realised how much goes into making and appreciating the different types of ramen, especially since I’d done a ramen cooking class in Kyoto previously!
For someone who doesn’t normally eat pork, I can honestly recommend each of the dishes I tried. Pork is traditionally used in ramen in Japan but it doesn’t necessarily taste “porky” if that makes sense; just juicy, tender and absorbs the rich flavours of the broth.
I was unsure how some of the flavour combinations were going to work when I ordered (especially the basil dish). But I know Japan loves experimenting with all kinds of flavours and more often than not they work out SO well.
TIP: I’ve rounded up the many and best food tours in Tokyo I’ve enjoyed and highly recommend you add to your itinerary!
Sending a huge thanks to Frank at Tokyo Ramen Tours for having me on this delicious tour! You can also follow his ramen adventures on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and in-depth restaurant reviews on his 5am Ramen blog.
What do you think of this ramen restaurant tour in Shibuya? Is it something you’d love try someday? Let me know in the comments below.
While you’re here, be sure to read my ultimate guide to planning a trip to Japan to cover all your bases, check out my 2 week or 3 week Japan itinerary for ideas, or learn what to pack for Japan (and what not to bring!) and more over on my Japan blog.
Until next time,
This guide to underrated Shibuya ramen shops contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!