There’s no denying that we love our ramen here in Japan. The dish is so well-loved, in fact, that it can be called one of the national comfort foods of Japan, and one of the factors that make ramen so intriguing is the fact that there are so many variations of it across Japan, from the miso-based ramen of Hokkaido in the north to the pork-stock based tonkotsu ramen of Kyushu in the south.

Surrounded as we are by all the different ramens served at countless shops throughout the country, it’s rare that we see a ramen that surprises us with its originality, but when we heard about a ramen with a soup containing stock made from green tea — and expensive gyokuro tea at that —  we have to say we were positively fascinated, and we knew we had to try it ourselves. Green tea ramen, here we come!


The gyokuro ramen we heard about was being served at the popular Menya Musashi shop in Shinjuku.


▼As we entered the shop, we were greeted by a red noren curtain featuring an image of Musashi Miyamoto, the legendary samurai after which the ramen chain was named.3

▼Here’s what the counter looked like.

▼A close-up of the items laid out on the counter, including the chopsticks, spoons, toothpicks and condiments for the ramen:

▼You can see the ramen being cooked from across the counter.6

There were several types of ramen on the menu, but of course, we were going to have the gyokuro ramen. Gyokuro green tea, by the way, is a special type of green tea that is grown in the shade instead of in the sun and is considered to be much more flavorful (and expensive) than the more widely consumed regular sencha green tea.

▼And here’s the green tea ramen we’d been waiting to taste! It came in a oribe-ware bowl, a detail designed to emulate the look and feel of a traditional Japanese tea cup.  7

▼The ramen looked like it wasn’t too heavy or oily, with a clear soup and no thick fatty slices of pork like you sometimes see. And while ramen is usually served piping hot, this gyokuro ramen was intentionally served at a lukewarm temperature of 55ºC (131ºF).
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Apparently, the green tea stock for the ramen soup is extracted slowly and carefully by placing ice made from soft water from Shizuoka Prefecture on top of the gyokuro tea leaves.  An original salt-flavored sauce made from sea bream stock is also added later to the soup. 

▼Let’s take a look at the ingredients: there were pieces of bamboo shoots, delicately flavored and adding a slightly crunchy texture to the dish.9

▼There were also thin slices of pork … 10

▼… and pieces of chicken, both of which were very mildly flavored.11

▼The noodles were slightly on the thin side, but maybe not as thin as those used at some of the tonkotsu ramen shops.

▼The ramen also came with a serving of the gyokuro tea leaves flavored with a bit of soy-sauce and vinegar ponzu sauce. The refreshing tea was an interesting and delightful way to cleanse the palate.13

▼By the time we left a little after 7 p.m. on a weekday evening the shop was full, with a line of about 6-7 people waiting for seats.14

So, how did the green tea ramen taste? The gentle taste of the bamboo shoots, pork and chicken was quite enjoyable, and while the flavor of green tea did not seem exceedingly strong and obvious in the soup, it was overall a pleasant tasting bowl of ramen. It is a very light ramen, though, with very little fat, so if you want a something with a strong flavor, oily soup and plenty of fatty ingredients (which we believe many people may be looking for when having ramen), then you may want to go for a more standard type. On the other hand, if you’re not in the mood for anything too heavy, then this ramen with the slight aftertaste of refreshing green tea may work very well for you. One thing we did feel ambivalent about was the temperature of the soup, which they deliberately lowered to 55ºC.  We’re not sure if this was done to preserve the delicate flavor of the green tea, but we felt we would have enjoyed the ramen even more if it was served hot. Still, we have to say we were quite impressed with the idea itself of using expensive tea to make ramen soup!

If you’re interested in trying the gyokuro ramen and don’t mind having your noodles lukewarm, they’ll be on the menu until November 30, but do take note that while Menya Musashi is a chain, the green tea ramen is available only at their Shinjuku shop, and they only serve 10 bowls each evening starting from 6 p.m. — and they do sell out, so make sure you don’t get there too late!

Shop Details
Menya Musashi Shinjuku Shop
Address: 7-2-6 Nishishinjuku, K1 Bldg. 1F, Shinjuku, Tokyo
(4 mins from JR Shinjuku Station West Exit)
Business Hours: Open every day  11:00~22:30
Tel: +81 3-3363-4634

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