Jikaseimen Mensho Tokyo (自家製麺 MENSHO TOKYO); Another Unique Mensho Brand, Korakuen
In the quest to take over the ramen world, Mensho opened up Jikaseimen Mensho Tokyo in 2014 and has since opened many more. All of the ramen from each brand location is unique in its own way and has a specialty that keeps customers coming back for more. I have been to a few of the Mensho brand ramen restaurants in the past, but I was very intrigued with Jikaseimen Mensho Tokyo as they serve a lamb broth ramen. Lamb isn’t necessarily a popular choice for ramen broth as it can be difficult to take away a bit of the wild and game-y smell and aftertaste it brings. However, Jikaseimen Mensho figured out a way to incorporate a few spices in to their soup to make the lamb broth ramen palatable for mass consumers. As the shop has continually made top 100 ramen rankings, it seems to have worked and I had to come try it out to review it for you all.
Jikaseimen Mensho is located just north of the Tokyo Dome and is accessible via either the Suidobashi station on the Chuo Sobu line or Korakuen station on the Tokyo metro. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, but open Wednesday to Monday from 11:00-15:00 for lunch and 17:00-23:00 for dinner. Jikaseimen Mensho offers both counter seating as well as table seating so the restaurant is ideal if you’re coming in a group. Once you step inside, the ticket machines are directly to your right. Mensho has four ramen types and they are located on the top two rows below a picture of each one. The four buttons indicate the different topping varieties for each ramen. Starting with the left is their famous Lamb Tsukemen, Niboshi Tsukemen, Lamb-Pork mixed broth Ramen, and the Niboshi-Lamb mixed broth ramen. The buttons from the top left clockwise are Tokusei (all toppings), Ajitama (soft boiled egg), Normal (no additional toppings), and Niku-mashi (extra char siu topping). Just below the Niboshi-Lamb mixed broth ramen are the Abura soba, or no soup ramen which come in Normal, Tokusei, and Nikumashi in increasing prices. The next row (third row) are toppings with Ajitama, 10 dried seaweed, green onions, and veggies costing 100 yen while the 20 dried seaweed and menma bamboo shoots are 150 yen. 200 yen toppings are the lamb and pork char siu options. The button next to the 200 yen topping is the 200 yen option for won tons. The fourth row is the rice bowl options of Pepper Rice, Green Onions over Rice, Raw Egg over Rice, and Char Siu over Rice. Next to those are the extra noodles option for the Tsukemen on the left and regular ramen on the right. Finally two beer options on the last row as well as a specialty Lamb Maze Soba, or lamb mixed noodles, and Lamb Tantanmen, or spicy lamb dandan noodles.
I ended up ordering the Lamb Tsukemen with all the extra toppings on this particular visit. As I said before, lamb isn’t a very popular broth base due to its pungent smell and that was more than apparent here with this dish. Upon closer inspection I started smelling an interesting combination of spices that was oddly familiar. As I usually do with my Tsukemen, I went for just the noodles at first. Noodles are made in house and have the nice bounciness you’d want for a tsukemen. Cooked to a firm finish, it has an incredible stretch and chewiness that develops flavor the more you bite through it. They have about a medium thickness so not so dense that it would take forever to finish. Next I went for the anticipate noodle dip. First bite and I realized how Mensho was able to get rid of the wild and game-y tasting notes of the lamb….cumin and cardamon. Much like an Indian lamb curry, spices are added to mellow out the lamb flavors. It’s quite interesting since, while it does have cumin and cardamon, there doesn’t seem to be an overlaying curry powder in the soup. The soup reminds you of curry, but still different enough that its an own separate tsukemen dish.
The Tokusei version of the tsukemen comes with three slices of the pork char siu, two slices of the lamb char siu with bits of minced lamb, and a soft boiled egg. In addition, it comes with the normal toppings of menma bamboo shoots, a piece of cilantro, and a slice of lemon. The lamb char siu is grilled medium rare and has a pretty good smoky element to it. The pork char siu looks as though it was simmered then given a quick sear before cutting and placed in to the bowl. Both char siu varieties paired pretty well with the tsukemen soup and definitely needed a bit of the soup to moisten them a bit. On its own it was just a tad dry. The soft boiled egg was cooked a bit longer than I would have liked as it lacked the runny yolk I typically enjoy for my ramen. It is marinated in a soy tare so it does have the flavor punch making it enjoyable on its own. Menma bamboo shoots were unfortunately forgettable and I wouldn’t recommend adding on extra unless you really like them with your bowl. The cilantro was a nice touch as the full bodied soup needed some fresh herbs to cut through some of the fattiness that inevitably comes with the denseness of tsukemen. The lemon served the same purpose, but in its own citrus-y way.
All in all, I’m glad I was able to try a bowl of this unique tsukemen. Not often do I get a chance to try a lamb based ramen and while it wasn’t my favorite, I can understand how it keeps attracting customers. In my opinion, the other Mensho brand ramen restaurants far outshine this lamb one. Lines can get quite long here during dinner hours as it is located in a pretty busy business district of Tokyo so I would recommend coming early. Lunch time is also quite busy, but as most of the people are coming during their lunch break, if you come after the rush, its quite easy to get in and eat. As always, love to hear from you! If you make it out to Jikaseimen Mensho Tokyo, let me know through my social media platforms or in the comment section below what you thought!