JAPANESE HARDCORE: Queuing for 1 1/2 hrs in the rain for a bowl of RAMEN

The joy in life is in Ramen

If you ever come to Tokyo, you will notice that Ramen [noodle] places are often small but sacred eateries. Many have been around for a long time and have gained a local reputation. That’s when they can get very crowded. So crowded in fact, that they get scouted and end up in travel advisers, on NHK broadcast, in food guides and street magazines. Even abroad.

An unusually large choice of Ramen at Mutekiya in Ikebukuro. [Try the Honmaru Black!]. Most Ramen places offer 2-3 main dishes. It is the ‘fast-food’ of Japan.

Most Ramen places are so small (10 seats) that queuing becomes inevitable

So, A LOT of tourists do pilgrimages to those few extremely famous Ramen places. One of the most famous one is Mutekiya Ramen in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. It’s a small corner place at the feet of a tall, multistorey building. Here at Mutekiya, guests are expected to queue for one hour–anything less is bad for reputation and branding.

Locals and tourists mingle and stand in line for arguable some of the best Ramen noodles in Tokyo, according to trip advisers and travel guides.

Hardcore queuing in heavy rain for famous Ramen: It’s probably still worthwhile

The Ramen at Mutekiya are excellent, there is an unusual large choice of dishes, beverages, and you can spice the noodles up yourself at the table. The taste is reliably excellent or why you would you have queued for that long?!

This place also has English, Chinese, and Korean menus and instructions. The staff is multilingual, the noodles are delicious. The 1 1/2 queuing was worth the while, and quite memorable.

Chinese and Korean tourists are in the majority, but we also met Russians and Americans. Eating experience is the top reason for coming to Tokyo, sight-seeing only comes in second.

And while many Westerners might may find it bizarre, longest queuing is an important part–a food ritual–in eating-out in Tokyo.

Queuing time at Mutekiya in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, ranges from 20 minutes in the early daytime to 2 hours in the evenings. Street staff are handing out menus and taking your orders about 30 minutes prior to entering. Once you’re seated, you excellent Ramen will be served almost immediately.

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