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Come for the fresh, hand-made noodles. Stay for literally everything else.

While the word “ramen” technically refers to the noodles, most restaurants renowned for the beloved dish make a name for themselves on the strength of their broth. That’s true for high-class establishments like the Michelin star-winning Tsuta as well as Aichi Prefecture’s “mud ramen” restaurant.

But in Tokyo’s Hatchobori neighborhood there’s a ramen restaurant that’s actually famous for its noodles. See, in most ramen restaurants the staff whips up a batch of noodles at the start of the day and grabs whatever they need from the stockpile as customers come in, but at Shichisai, they don’t start making your noodles until after you place your order.

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Just a three-minute walk from Hatchobori Station, Shichisai is located in what’s primarily an office district. Hoping to dodge the crowds, we showed up for lunch on a Saturday, but every seat was still taken, so we patiently waited in line for 10 minutes until a spot opened up.

Shichisai has a pretty extensive menu, as far as ramen joints go, with regular soy broth ramen, chilled hiyashi chuka, and tsukemen (in which the noodles are served on a plate and dunked into the broth before eating) all on offer. The most popular item among customers, though, is Shichisai’s special broth made with sardines, which we opted for in the form of the Kitakata niku soba niboshi (which is indeed ramen) for 1,070 yen (US$10).

Just as we’d heard, after we placed our order, we could see the staff in the open kitchen making our noodles from scratch. They mixed the dough, rolled it out by hand, and sliced it into long, thin strips to be boiled. This makes eating at Shichisai a very different experience from the speedy service and near-instant gratification of most other ramen restaurants, but the chefs prepared our noodles with such skillful craftsmanship that as we watched them, it didn’t feel like we were being made to wait so much as entertained with a demonstration of their culinary prowess.

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When our ramen was placed before us, it was filled with so many slices of chashu pork that we could barely see Shichisai’s vaunted noodles. There was some meaty variety, too, as the Kitakata niku soba comes with cuts of pork belly and loin, both of which were tender and flavorful.

The broth was also delicious. While the sardines gave it a definite fish flavor, with just a tinge of bitterness and a sharp finish, the smell was in no way harsh or unpleasant.

▼ The noodles also lived up to our lofty expectations, and you can upgrade to a large or extra-large portion of them for free.

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As a matter of fact, everything was so good that we decided to add a 200-yen mini chashu bowl to our meal.

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Not only did this give us one more chance to eat Shichisai’s tasty pork, it also meant we could toss some rice into the ramen broth for a palate-pleasing combination.

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So in the end, Shichisai might be best-known for its noodles, but everything else that goes into its ramen is just as amazing.

Restaurant information
Shichisai (Hatchobori branch) / 七彩 (八丁堀店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Hatchobori 2-13-2
Open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.; Weekends/holidays 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed third Tuesday of every month

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