A decade or two ago, the big Japanese food export that everybody raved about was sushi. Sushi joints cropped up all over the place, with the more authentic places employing highly skilled Japanese chefs slinging expertly crafted sushi at exorbitant prices. In places like New York City, sushi was the go-to food if you wanted to eat out but keep it at least a little on the healthy side.

Then, Westerners apparently took a look at all the diet food in their grocery stores and bland sandwich wraps in their food trucks and decided to revolt. Suddenly, wraps, sushi and other healthy foods were replaced with cronuts, cupcakes, “all the bacon and eggs you have,” and, of course, ramen. Delicious, fatty, greasy ramen quickly replaced sushi as the hip Japanese food and Westerners are willing to pay top dollar for it.

Of course, some Japanese (primarily the slightly feral citizens of 2chan) argue that, for all the money they’re shelling out, Westerners couldn’t pick out a truly great bowl of ramen to save their lives. So, 2chan was unsurprisingly amused when Reddit user lemonpls posted to a foodie subreddit that he’d found the greatest bowl of ramen he’d ever had in his life… at a common fast food chain in Tokyo.



Hidakaya is a chain specializing in ramen, gyoza and other mostly Chinese-imported comfort foods, with 353 locations throughout Japan. There are two or three around nearly every major train station in Tokyo, and most of them are open until late at night. For that reason they’re generally seen by the Japanese as places to go after you’ve had a few drinks and are slurring too much to possibly put in an order anywhere that doesn’t provide a picture menu.


So, we can sort of understand the Japanese scoffing at this poor Reddit user’s claim that Hidakaya’s ramen was literally the best he’d ever had. It’s like saying a Wendy’s Baconator was literally the best burger you’ve ever eaten; Sure, it’s better than some other joints, but it’s still just fast food.

But, being the intrepid champions of objectivity we are, we knew we had to go investigate Hidakaya for ourselves and our lovely readers… for the second time this week.

That’s right. Full disclosure: I eat at Hidakaya two or three times a month. It’s convenient, cheap, reasonably fast, and pretty good for the money you pay. You’ll never break 1,000 yen (US$10) here, even if you order a veritable metric ton of food, and it’s all pretty damn good.


Yes, Hidakaya is still fast food through and through. There’s muzak in the background, often disgruntled, slightly too curt employees scurrying around, and it also has that distinct “fast food restaurant smell” like something died in the store recently and they’re desperately trying to cover it up with the aroma of burning lard.

But beneath all that is some shockingly good comfort food, even though I personally find the ramen there to be nothing special. The gyoza, especially, is plump, satisfying and not too greasy, and the fried rice is salt-and-fat heaven in a bowl. Their stir fry selection is also decent and, if you must go for the ramen, I’d recommend getting one of the limited seasonal items – which tend to have stronger, more unique flavors – over the traditional shio or tonkotsu.


Overall, Hidakaya is one of those flavors I start to miss whenever I go back home to the states for an extended period of time, but precisely because it’s one of those ubiquitous staples that appeals to your salt and fat-loving lizard brain, not because it’s anything especially gourmet.

If you’re only visiting Japan, I’d strongly recommend a more authentic ramen experience, but I understand that a lot of Japan’s mom-and-pop style places can be daunting for someone who doesn’t speak the language. Heck, even chef and legendary foodie Anthony Bourdain was so intimidated he settled for McDonald’s his first time in Japan – so, Hidakaya is definitely a step up.

Source: 2chan
Photos: RocketNews24