Trying to pick out your favorite ramen spot in Japan can be a tough choice - there are so many fantastic spots offering up loads of variations on the much-loved noodle dish. My number one, though? Kaotan Ramen. Kaotan is a small shack sitting right next to Tokyo's Aoyama Cemetery, and epitomizes the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover".
There are no flashy menus inside and no fancy signs outside, but something about this place just has a rustic charm that I adore. It's frequented by salarymen and hordes of taxi drivers that stop on the street outside the shack to get their ramen fix, which to me is a sign that they're legit. The kitchen area is tiny, and you'll feel like you've stepped back in time a little when you enter - but the unique ambience adds to the overall experience.
Not sure what to order? Simply say "ramen" and you'll get their signature dish which is a shoyu broth with their deliciously chewy noodles, topped with melt in your mouth char-siu pork, fried onions and snow peas. Sounds basic compared to some other ramen dishes out there, but the taste is incredible.
Kaotan Ramen is located under ten minutes on foot from Nogizaka Station, on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line.
I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've visited 44 of 47 prefectures, with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, ...