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THE SIMPLEST Tokyo Ramen Ever : ITOH & Toden Table

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

SIMPLE IS BEST. The spirit of Japanese cuisine emerges in a bowl of ramen.

Fifteen minutes north of Nippori, or twenty from Tokyo station, AKABANE is a cozy town with dozens of Sembero cheap izakayas.

Just a one-minute walk from the station, you'll find ITOH. You may miss the entrance at first, it’s just an eight-stall tiny shop along a narrow corridor.

Get a ticket at the ticketing machine, grab a glass of water, and join the queue until ushered in. Among a couple of selections, I recommend The Basic “Chuka soba.” Remember, SIMPLE IS BEST.

Once seated, your ramen will soon join you. See the bright yellow noodles, the ingredient jostling together in the soup, a bit of green onion. NO MORE, NO LESS.

Concentrate on your bowl, feel the sturdiness of the handmade noodles, taste the boldness of the sardine-flavoured soup. It's a ten-minute experience which captures the spirit of ramen.

The queue might be getting longer outside. Put your emptied bowl back on the counter, just smile and say thanks or Gochiso-sama and leave. You're certainly thinking about how soon you'll be back to Akabane.

From top left, ramen with pork slices, small, medium or large. basic ramen, chicken flavoured with pork slices, chicken flavoured basic. Cash Only.           <Original in DEC 2020 ©Larry_Tak >

The other day, I got off a nostalgic TODEN tram making its way through Metropolitan Tokyo, then started walking on a winding narrow street in a residential area.

After ten minutes, I found a worn-out stall surrounded by tin sheets. You would have no idea it was a restaurant if not for a chochin balloon and a small sign of TODEN TABLE indicating a place for ramen. No wonder because the building was renovated from an old grocery store, keeping the rustic exterior and installing an U-shaped wooden counter and a handful of stalls, the minimum standard as a ramen shop.

Top of the menu was Su-ramen, which means 'just' or 'simple' ramen. I ordered it without hesitation. When the bowl was served, I made sure that it had Nothing But Ramen. All I could find was clear soup, noodles and a sprinkle of green onion.

While the display of the bowl was so simple, the ingredients were very complex. The soup was a broth made from sardine, kombu seaweed, shiitake mushrooms and others. The noodles were delivered uniquely to this shop.

There was a sense of Japanese beauty, which eliminates every unnecessary decoration. The taste of the soup filled my mouth and enjoying the texture of noodles was the perfect ramen experience. With full respect, I said Gochiso-sama, and returned the bowl. <Added in JUL 2023 ©Larry_Tak>

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