90% of Japanese people in the Bay Area will only eat ramen at the little mom and pop shop called Santa. They line up for hours to get a seat at one of the six tables there and get a bowl of mentaiko ramen (spicy cod roe). In fact, it’s become such a phenomenon that the restaurant’s namesake, Santa Claus himself, ate here twice when he visited San Francisco last Christmas Eve.
The contest for Best Ramen Joint is much more exciting in Tokyo. How do you choose among the legendary soups of Jangara, the smooth salt broth of Marukin, and the awesome corn toppings at Kazuki? My personal favorite is Tukumo Ramen. It’s in my ‘hood, halfway between Ebisu and Shibuya. There’s nothing like slurping a bowl of pork broth noodlies served by enthusiastically sweaty guys in red piggy t-shirts at the crack of dawn, after a late night at Gas Panic or some other inexplicably popular bar. Pictured above is Tukumo’s elusive Cheese Ramen. (The piggy boys only make 200 bowls of Cheese Ramen a day.)