Translated by Andrew J Tinkler
Mutekiya In Ikebukuro - The Ramen Shop You Just Have To Visit!
This time, we take you into the ramen war zone, Ikebukuro, to the tonkotsu ramen shop whose popularity is evident from the never ending line of people outside its doors - Mutekiya. After just one bite, you'll know it's worth the wait!
Written by Inubushi Yoshiyuki
Today we will introduce the winner of the world’s biggest travel site, Trip Advisor’s 2015 Certificate of Excellence Award, the tonkotsu ramen shop Mensobo Mutekiya.
Muteki serves approximately 1000 bowls of ramen each day. There’s a line waiting outside its doors from the minute they open their doors to late at night.
Many people come from all over the world and eat here while on vacation in Japan, making about 40 percent of its customers people from abroad. They have easy to understand menus in a number of different languages.
Shop’s Exterior and Interior
Muteki is located 3 minutes from Ikebukuro Station’s east exit. Exit the station, immediately turn right and follow the road straight. The sign is uniquely decorated with Chinese woks so you can’t miss it.
There are 17 counter seats set up inside the store. There is no meal ticket machine in Muteki so have a look at the menu and order directly from the staff.
Here is an example of one of the menus. In addition to Japanese, menus are also available in English, Chinese and Korean. For those of you who wish to see a menu in one of these languages, tell a staff member the appropriate number of the menu you’d like to see.
And to make the menu even easier to understand, all food items are accompanied by pictures. In addition to ramen, there are a number of other choices , for example tsukemen (noodles and soup served separately; you dip the noodles in the topping-filled soup), so there are plenty of things to choose from.
The Number One Favorite: Niku Dama Men (1050 Yen)
This time I ordered the famous Niku Dama Men (meat and egg noodles). Recently this dish has been overwhelmingly popular and you can tell why just from the picture. In the bowl, you can see three extra-large pieces of chashu (roasted pork soaked in seasoned stock, 2two soft-boiled eggs, rape blossom stalks and menma (fermented bamboo shoots).
Large amounts of pork bone are used in order to make the soup and fresh batches are made about three times a day. In order to prevent it from having a strong smell, the pork bones’ flavor and sweetness are condensed. The meat contains plenty of the fatty upper part of the roast but has been carefully selected from among the finest stock in the country and preserved quite well; it's cooked at fixed intervals so it doesn’t have that heavy or greasy feel to it, and is easy on the stomach. At Mutekiya, they aim to make a savory yet subtle-tasting soup while focusing on maintaining that fresh from the oven taste. Doing so makes for a fine pork bone soup with a strong body.
The noodles are of medium size with a springy texture and when you slurp them up, the flavor of the soup comes with it. Mastered to perfection over the last 10 years, the store only uses flour made in Hokkaido.
The chashu (pork topping), taken from the kakuni (*1), although extremely thick, is tender enough to fall apart when picked it up with your chopsticks. The fatty parts will melt in your mouth without you ever having to chew them. They grill the edges of the chashu to concentrate the flavor of the pork, which leaves not only the taste but also an intoxicating scent that spreads all throughout your mouth. And to have 3 pieces served with your ramen is surely heaven itself!
The flavor of Mutekiya’s Niku Dama Men is unmatched, which is why it is number 1 in satisfaction and popularity. Large portions of ramen noodles come at no extra charge so those of you with big appetites, feel free to get more noodles!
*1 Kakuni: A stew made of seasoned pork and vegetables.
At each seat, there are a number of different sauces and spices with labels written in English. So at first, order from the menu of your choosing and if you feel like it, add some extra seasonings to your dish to flavor it as you like.
The staff at Mutekiya are all friendly and welcoming which makes for a wonderful experience. Some staff members speak English or Chinese, even though these members are not always at the shop. If you need any assistance, don’t hesitate to ask someone.
As I mentioned before, there is almost always a line outside so make sure you leave plenty of time available for the wait. Also, please refrain from doing things like cutting in line, causing any confusion or causing any problems for any of the other customers. Waiting is tough of course, but please be respectful of those around you so that all may enjoy their delicious ramen. The taste is worth the wait!
Address: Tokyo, Toyoshima, Minami Ikebukuro 1-17-1
Hours: 10:30– 04:00 the following day
Closed: December 31st to January 1st
Credit Cards: N/A
Other Languages: English, Chinese (not always available)
Menus in Other Languages: English, Chinese, Korean
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro Station (JR line, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line, Fukutoshin line, Tobu Tojo line, Seibu Ikebukuro line)
Access: 3minute walk from Ikebukuro Station’s east exit
Price: Around 1200 yen
Website: Mensobo Mutekiya