Shinjuku is known as one of the fiercest battlegrounds for ramen shops with around 200 shops there. They are rich in variety, from basic ones to novelty ones. Ramen, which is originally from China, is now a Japanese national fast food. These are the ramen shops you should visit.
Kibouken is near the C3 Exit of the Shinjuku Sanchome subway station. Japanese people love to finish a night of drinking alcohol by eating ramen. Even though the black soup at Kibouken looks so thick and salty, this soup is actually a little light which makes it great ramen to eat after drinking. And look at all the meat they give you with your order! This is definitely a top-notch ramen joint.
Don't miss the blue signboard, otherwise, you'll be missing out on some of the best ramen you can possibly have in Tokyo. The restaurant is on the basement floor, has only 15 counter seats but has become one of the iconic ramen joints of Shinjuku. Whenever you visit, you'll see a long line for this very popular shop. While it is famous for its thick seafood-based Tsukemen (noodles and broth are served separately), you also might want to try the simple ramen too. Kamatama ramen (like Kamatama Udon, a popular type of Udon with a raw egg inside the dish) is also worth a try.
Located a 6-minute walk from the South Exit of Shinjuku Station. The ramen dish is just around 1,000 yen.
Menya Shou 麺屋 翔
This shop's specialty is Shio Ramen, a type of ramen that has a basic, lightly salted taste. You will easily eat up this your bowl of this amazing ramen. This is the best option for those who don't like ramen that are too oily and heavy. The "toripaitan ramen" (made of chicken broth) is also worth a try here. The nearest station is the Toei Oedo Line Shinjuku Station (D3 Exit).
Hachiro Shoten 八郎商店
Miso ramen and Tonkotsu ramen are the other common types of Japanese ramen. At Hachiro Shoten, they originally merged the two types to make their own Tonkotsu-miso ramen. Judging by this joint's popularity, you can say you get the best of both ramen worlds. The thick soup coating the noodles with a rich miso and pork taste has been making people addicting to this ramen!
Located a 4-minute walk from the Toei Subway Line's Shinjuku Station's West Exit.
Ramen Nagi ラーメン凪
If you want to have a taste of a ramen made from an exquisite fish broth called Niboshi (dried sardine), the best place to go is Ramen Nagi. Among rather thick noodles, you'll find even thicker noodles as big as Udon noodles. What's great about this shop is that it's open 24 hours so you can go there for a late night meal. Near the Seibu Shinjuku Station.
Shoyu ramen (soy sauce-based ramen) is one of the traditional Japanese ramen. The combination of springy noodle and the mild tasting soup has been loved for generations. Horiuchi is one of the best places in town to have this standard ramen bowl. There are two dishes you should try here. One is the natto ramen (pictured above). This strikingly bold combination is surprisingly delicious! The other ramen bowl you should have is the chashu ramen. For 1,300 yen you get a soy sauce based ramen topped with an extremely generous amount of thick pork belly slices. It's the ramen bowl for meat lovers.
Located just a 3-minute walk from the West Exit of the Shinjuku Station.
From the South gate of Shinjuku Station, walking towards Takashimaya, you'll find this "Iekei" (literally means "home-style") ramen shop. "Iekei" ramen is a kind of thick ramen that is originally from Yokohama. It's getting a great reputation for its rich tonkotsu (pork broth) and shoyu (soy-sauce) based soup and straight flat noodles.
Located a 3-minute walk from the Shinjuku Station's South Exit.
Ramen Gonokami らーめん五ノ神
You probably haven't seen shrimp in ramen. In Shinjuku, there are 3 shops serving Shrimp ramen: Gonokami, Ichigen and Momonga. Gonokami is arguably one of the best of the three for shrimp ramen! The soup is rich and thick, yet you get to enjoy the gentle fragrance and taste of the delicious shrimp inside. Located a 4-minute walk from the Shinjuku Station's South Exit.
Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
At this ramen shop, you get the perfect balance of taste in a soup made from chicken and pork bones, as well as bonito dried sardines. The sent of the soup is enough to make you come back. Aside from the ramen bowl with pork belly meat and a generous amount of bamboo shoots, you can have your dish with tsukemen (dipping noodles) which comes with a rich and tasty dipping sauce made from the same broth but with a slightly sweeter taste.
Located near the Seibu Shinjuku Station.
Menya Kaijin 麺屋海神
Near Shinjuku's Station South East Exit, you'll find this little gem of a ramen shop. The name means "god of the sea" and you'll understand why when you taste the soup made of a broth of many different kinds of fish bones. The result is a light soup with a deep, exquisite taste. The soup has a beautiful golden color and the ramen has unusual toppings such as shrimp and chicken cartilage dumplings, all of which go wonderfully well with the soup.
Moko Tanmen Nakamoto 蒙古タンメン中本
If you like spicy foods then this is the place for you to go. Nakamoto offers many ramen dishes that are mildly spicy to extremely spicy. The most intense spicy ramen comes in the form of the hokkyoku ramen (Arctic ramen) which has a miso base soup and lots of hot stuff that will make you feel like you're anywhere but the Arctic. Also, try the Moko Tanmen which is the store's most popular ramen. It's milder and has lots of vegetables and tofu in it.
Located a 2-minute walk from the Toei Subway Line's Shinjuku Sation's West Exit.
Ramen Jiro ラーメン二郎
Ramen Jiro is located in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku. It'll take you about 4 minutes to get there from the Seibu Shinjuku train station or an 8-minute walk from the East Exit of the JR Shinjuku Station. Their ramen comes with for thick pieces of pork and you can choose how hard you want your noodles, how much bean sprouts you want to be topped on it and how much garlic. The white soup has a delicious soy sauce base. You can add more soy sauce to your bowl as there is some placed on each table. You can create an intense flavor by adding the most of each condiment or you can have it more simple and light flavored if you choose to.
Ichiran is a chain, but it is arguably the best one in Japan so it is worth mentioning here. The secret to its success is perhaps the spicy powder and the flour-based noodles made by Ichiran itself. And the deep flavor of their soups is just irresistible. Going there is a fun experience not just for the ramen, but how you order it. Buy your ticket from the vending machine, then fill out an extensive order form about how you want your ramen. It's the most customizable ramen there is. You can choose the level of spiciness, the amount of garlic, the intensity of the dashi seasoning stock and much more! Forms are in English and Japanese.
AFURI is just a minute away from the Shinjuku Station's West Exit. This is the place to go if you are not an oily ramen fan. The ramen at AFURI is lighter and has a more refreshing taste than most other ramen joints. The secret to their signature taste is the addition of yuzu lemon, a kind of citrus native to Japan. The broth is chicken based, and goes perfectly well with the yuzu flavor. You can even choose to have noodles made of konnyaku (yam root) which have virtually no calories. This is the kind of restaurant that dieters or health conscious people will love.
There is a plethora of excellent ramen shops in Shinjuku. Not only can you find outstanding quality, but also a wide variety of ramen genres. For true ramen warriors on a quest to find the very best, Shinjuku is the battleground you should venture in!
Next, you might want to explore the whole city of Tokyo!