A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Eat Tsukemen

It literally means dipping ramen.

Nogata Hope -- Harajuku Branch
Address: 1-2-1, Jingumae, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Open 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Contact: 035-474-4183

In Japan, there is a way of eating noodles that involves dipping non-flavored noodles in a strongly-flavored soup, so that diners can get exactly the flavor they want. When ramen noodles are used, this method is called Tsukemen or “Dipping Ramen”. In this guide, we’re going to introduce Tsukemen and how to eat it.

Today, we’re at the Harajuku branch of the Nogata Hope ramen restaurant chain. This is a lodge-style restaurant that’s about a 10-minute walk from JR Harajuku Station, in one of the quieter parts of Harajuku.

We’re ready to eat our Tsukemen noodles (¥800, Seasonal specialty). The noodles are in the bowl on the right. The noodles are topped by banno negi (thinly-sliced spring onions). The noodle soup on the left has a slightly stronger flavor than ordinary ramen soup.

After being boiled, the noodles are dunked in cold water to cool them down. This method of preparing food is known as shimeru
(“tightening”) in Japan. As the name suggests, the just-boiled noodles are “tightened up” by the cooling process, so that they become springier.

Pick up one or two mouthfuls of noodles with your chopsticks.

Move the noodles over the soup bowl. The unique flavor of Tsukemen noodles lies in the soup, not in the noodles. If you want a stronger flavor, use the bottle of ramen sauce that we pointed out earlier on.

With other dishes like Zaru Soba (soba noodles served with dipping sauce) that are eaten in a similar way, diners are discouraged from dipping all of the noodles into the sauce. Instead, it’s recommended to just get a little taste of the sauce on the noodles. However, with Tsukemen ramen, you need to make sure that all of the noodles are fully immersed in the soup to get the optimal flavor.

All you need to do now is eat the noodles in the same way you would eat ordinary ramen, and enjoy the wonderful texture of the noodles that have been “tightened up” in cold water and the delicious, rich-tasting soup. There is also another dish called Hiyashi Ramen (“Cold Ramen”), in which cold noodles are added to cold soup, which at first glance looks just like ordinary ramen.

This is a disposable paper apron. When eating ramen, the soup tends to splash out from the bowl, so if you are worried about getting your clothes dirty, it might be a good idea to use one of these. At Nogata Hope Harajuku branch, the members of staff ask if you want an apron when they take your order, but there are also many ramen restaurants that don’t provide these aprons.


Provided by Travel Photo GuideTM and Japan Walker ™  (February 9, 2018)

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