Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta 蔦, a Michelin star winning Ramen restaurant!
We decided to check out Tsuta, in Sugamo, known for their award winning ramen noodles. It is the 13th Ramen noodles store in Japan, according to Ramen Database. It is a 2 min walk away from Sugamo station on the JR Yamanote line, just 2 stops from Ikebukuro.
Here’s how the system works.
7:00 am – They start distributing tickets. You are appointed time slots (you can tell them your preferred time slot), and you are asked to come back during that time. The tickets differ in color, depending on the assigned time slot. You are asked to make a deposit of 1000 yen per ticket, so make sure you have 1000 yen bill ready. They only take the 1000 yen bill, so make sure you bring exact change. This ticket is similar in theory to Fastpass in Disneyland.
11:00 am- The store opens. People with the 11am time slot tickets can line up outside, and are welcomed in by groups of 3 (apparently, that’s how many bowls they can serve at a time). If you go with a large party, you may be invited inside separately.
We went today at 6:55am to get the tickets for the 12pm time slot, and there were already about 15 people in front of us. We received our tickets at around 7:03am, and we killed time in a nearby cafe (Cafe Komeda, which is a pretty neat place as well!). We were asked to come back during 12:00-12:30pm.
12:00pm, we went back to Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta. There were already about 10 people waiting in front of us. We waited outside for about 30 minutes. During this time, we decided on which ramen noodles to get. We also were asked to read the Tsuta guidelines.
12:30pm, we were invited inside. We got back our deposit in exchange with our ticket. Inside, there is a ticket vending machine, and we choose what kind of ramen noodle we want, and buy the corresponding ticket. There are English buttons and menus, so don’t worry! Again, cash only so make sure you have enough cash. Their number 1 ramen noodles is Shoyu Ramen with egg and wontons. Besides ramen noodles, they also have Tsukemen, a type of noodles with thick dipping sauce served separately.
12:35pm, we were served our ramen noodles. We waited for a few minutes inside, but the ramen noodles were served pretty quickly.
I got the Soysauce Japanese Soba Noodles with Egg (1200yen), and spring onion toppings (150yen) and extra noodles (150yen). The total was 1500yen, and considering the usual price for ramen noodles in Tokyo is about 700-800yen, it was pretty expensive.
However, the ramen noodles was amazing! Tsuta is committed to choosing the best ingredients for its noodles. The soup had a rich taste with hints of porcini mushrooms, topped with truffle paste, while not losing its simplicity. It is a type of ramen noodles you cannot taste anywhere else, so it is definitely worth a try. It is very rare nowadays to find simple Shoyu (soy sauce) ramen noodles, because the mainstream is Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) and thick soups. Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta is an excellent store if you prefer simple, yet rich in taste, noodles, with no MSG or artificial flavors.
Was it worth lining up at 7am? I’d say yes, because after you get the fastpass ticket, you can go somewhere else and use time wisely.
Was it worth 1500 yen? Absolutely. Tsuta only uses the best ingredients, and I really enjoyed their soup.
Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta also has a twitter account, where they announce how many fastpass tickets are left for each timeslot, so make sure to check that out as well (their tweets are in Japanese, but you can always use auto-translate).