Menya Nemuru (麺屋 ねむ瑠); Squid Broth Ramen to Die For, Hongo Sanchome
Tucked away in a pretty discreet area of central Tokyo is a chic, little ramen restaurant serving up some incredible seafood based ramen. Of the hundreds of varieties of ramen available to choose from, Menya Nemuru has settled on two incredibly unique broths; a light, clam based ramen and a thick, squid based ramen. While the two ramen styles are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of seafood based broths, Nemuru has somehow managed to produce incredibly delicious ramen for both varieties. To grab yourself a bowl, take a trip down to Hongo Sanchome station on the Marunouchi or Oedo subway lines and walk towards the main freeway. A quaint, modern ramen restaurant awaits right across the street.
Once you walk in, a ticket machine sits to the left of the door. You’ll need to buy your tickets at the machine before you take your seat and unfortunately the buttons are all in Japanese. Fortunately, I took a photo of the machine and will translate it here so take a screenshot if you won’t have wifi, or pull this review up when its time to make your order. So the top four rows are the four ramen types they serve here at Nemuru. The first row is the Shoyu version of their Noukou Ika Niboshi Chuka Soba (Thick Squid and Niboshi Ramen) and the second row is the Shio version. The third row is the Tanrei Aka Niwatori to Hamaguri Chuka Soba (Light, Chicken and Clam Ramen) in the Shoyu variety and Shio variety on the fourth row. The first column of the four rows is the regular ramen with no additional toppings. The second column comes with their marinated, soft boiled egg, third column is with extra char siu, fourth comes with 5 pieces of dried seaweed, and the fifth column comes with all of the additional toppings. The fifth row is the Kaedama, or extra noodles option with the first column being just extra noodles, second column with extra toppings, and third column being extra toppings and more soup in case you run out. The sixth row is the rice dishes with the first column being one with rice crackers, second column coming with a raw egg, and the two on the far right being plain rice and a large serving of plain rice. The next row down is the toppings with marinate soft boiled egg, extra char siu, dried seaweed, raw egg, and two clams. Below that are the drinks of coke, oolong tea, beer, and orange juice with otsumami (beer pairing) char siu on the far right. The last row are specialty set menu items which are listed out in the front if available. Once you have your tickets purchased, make your way to your seat and hand them over to the staff behind the counter.
I opted for their Noukou Ika Niboshi Chuka Soba, or the Squid and Niboshi Ramen, with a marinated, soft boiled egg, on this particular visit with the specialty Kaedama, or extra noodles, which I highly recommend ordering. As you can see from the picture, the bowl comes adorned with two slices of their roast pork char siu, a healthy scoop of diced onions, and a mix of Japanese greens. The soup itself is exactly as advertised; ridiculously thick and creamy. I haven’t had very many squid broth ramen so I was curious to see how it tasted, hence my decision to order this ramen variety. The soup is pretty heavily squid flavored, which shines through because of the bitterness of the Niboshi. The contrasting flavors of the Niboshi and Squid makes it so that you can taste each distinct flavor separately. I’m not sure how I feel about it, as it didn’t necessarily blend together well, but it does work harmoniously for a great soup pairing. The squid has a very distinct sweet quality that counterbalances the Niboshi well. It is a rather unique soup combination and just one by itself wouldn’t differentiates it from the hundreds of other ramen restaurants in Tokyo, so I can understand their intention of making a great bowl using these two broths. I wasn’t able to try the Shio version, but the Shoyu was quite good in giving a nice toasted aroma and accentuating the seafood broth.
The thin noodles are the typical size meant for Niboshi style ramen and therefore was a great pairing. It wasn’t anything different from other Niboshi style ramen bowls; straight, thin, and round. I thought this could have been a nice way to give the bowl a unique twist, but no complaints. The pork char siu was a sous vide style and incredibly tender. The marinade was light, which I appreciated, and made for a nice compliment to the strong flavors of the soup. The marinated egg has a deep soy sauce flavor with the squid sweetness embedded in. I quite liked that they try to at least incorporate the squid in to the egg rather than wasting that opportunity. Soft boiled egg was cooked to perfection and had a great creamy interior. The highlight however was definitely the Kaedama, or extra noodles. While a bit pricey, the noodles can be eaten as is without putting it in the soup, and comes with a healthy portion of toppings, so it was definitely worth the price. Gyofun (fish powder), diced pork char siu and diced onions come with the noodles which are placed above Nemuru’s specialty sauce. Mix it together and try it as is first. The squid based tare makes for a flavorful and sweet noodles. Add some of the Sansho Olive Oil which is provided at the table for some kick and the vinegar for a bit of tang. Once you’re satisfied, throw the rest of the noodles in the soup and enjoy the flavor change the oil and vinegar provides to the soup.
If you’re on the search for some unique soup blends, definitely check out Menya Nemuru. While it is in a discreet area of Tokyo, its not far from a lot of popular tourist spots so can be a nice restaurant to stop by for a bit of rest from the crowds of people. I definitely recommend getting the extra noodles, but can’t say which ramen to get. I hear from other ramen enthusiasts that the clam ramen is also fantastic so I will have to come again to try that and compare the two. As always, if you end up going to Nemuru, be sure to let me know on instagram, twitter, or facebook to let me know what you thought. Also, I recently got approved for the Air BnB Experiences program and have started my own ramen tours. If you’re interested in attending, check out my schedule here! Hope to see you on your ramen adventures in Tokyo!