Ramen is a culinary canvas. Not governed by strict washoku food rules, chefs can experiment with colors and ingredients. It’s food of the common man and woman, it’s a sobering bowl for tipsy diners after midnight and it can also be a Michelin-starred work of art.

Between beloved classics such as miso or tonkotsu pork ramen and the dubious chocolate ramen concoctions popping up around Valentine’s Day, there are some creative bowls of noodles that are a gourmet’s dream. We have selected the five most unique ramen in Tokyo that look like magic and taste like it too.

1. Vegan Ramen Uzu at teamLab Planets

All the ramen dishes at teamLab Planets are a work of art and not only because they are part of a museum and can be eaten surrounded by art in several spots. You can eat ramen inside the Reversible Rotation – Non-Objective Space (ticket needed), or at the Table of Sky, looking at the Fire artwork space, sitting on the One Stroke Bench. And what’s in your bowl is gastronomic art for all senses. All ingredients are carefully selected, the flour for noodles is from Hokkaido and Miyazaki, while the broth is simmered for at least 12 hours.

The spicy miso ramen blends miso and sesame for a rich silky taste, while the ‘fire’ version packs a lot more chili. Upping the creativity, the matcha ramen has tea, kelp and shiitake working together for a flavorful broth. The soy ramen is the underdog here, with a plainer look, but it’s an umami bomb thanks to the grilled tomato. It’s one of the best bowls in general.

Vegan soy ramen

However, the main star is the edible flower ramen served chilled in a glass bowl. It’s like an ikebana you don’t want to eat at first, but it’s worth getting down to that nutty delicious broth. This ramen is served with a glass of cold green tea, meant to be drank as you eat as it results in an even more elevated culinary experience.

This is the only Tokyo location of the famous Uzu ramen from Kyoto. You don’t need to have tickets to teamLab Planets to eat Uzu ramen. For more details check the official website.


Honorable Mentions: Kyushu Jangara Ramen in Harajuku and Afuri Ramen (multiple locations)

These ramen shops have great vegan options too and are both known for their yuzu citrus-flavored ramen bowls.

Photo by Lisa Knight

2. Kipposhi Ramen

Looking at it, you would think this might be a tasteless gimmick. However, it doesn’t taste blue nor artificial. It is, in fact, a delicious bright chicken paitan soup. Kipposhi’s chef has a technique for making a clarified transparent chicken broth that is then dyed naturally with secret ingredients, possibly from the edible algae family. The noodles are thin and springy, the chicken topping is simple and soft and both are complemented perfectly by the egg.

This ramen shop also has a more classic chicken ramen. Occasionally, there are seasonal experimental bowls such as peach ramen with fruit slices, chocolate ramen, green muscat grape ramen, grapefruit ramen and so on. For more details check their official website.


Honorable Mention: Papapapapineapple Ramen

We’ve already established that fruit goes well with savory. This ramen shop in Machida knows that and their superstar pineapple ramen has appealed to many diners. They recently put Babababanana Ramen on the menu, but we have yet to try it.


Photo By Zoria P.K.

3. Mensho San Francisco Matcha Ramen

Loved both in Japan and abroad, Mensho has several stores but the Mensho San Francisco store in Shinjuku offers some of the most unique ramen options. The classic yuzu chicken and the sesame tantanmen are always recommended. The chilled summer tantanmen has even more grilled veggies on top.

The real creativity of the shop, however, lies in its bright green foamy matcha ramen. The taste relies heavily on the light creamy chicken broth base, with just a hint of powdery matcha. It’s well balanced, with crunchy burdock root shavings on top and a mouthwatering piece of wagyu beef to boot. The shop itself is stylish, with a relaxed atmosphere and cool background music. For more details, check the official website.


Honorable Mention: Aroma’s Coffee Ramen 

If matcha is not your cup of tea, you might want to try coffee ramen. Served by an old-style Japanese coffee shop, both the noodles and the broth contain some coffee. Topped with fruits and ice cream it makes for a very unusual bowl. Apparently, you’ll either love it or hate it.

4. Noodle Stand Coconut Miso Ramen

Coconut milk and miso are star-crossed lovers that should be meeting more often. The coconut has far more creaminess and flavor than the soymilk ramen that pops up on menus around Japan. They blend together beautifully, with thin noodles, a bit of pickled ginger to cut through and crushed peanuts on top for crunch factor. Grilled tempeh slices or grilled chicken (for non-vegans) are the crown on top.

The shop recently moved here.


Honorable Mention: Kikuya’s Ice Cream Ramen

A small ramen shop almost 50 years old serves ramen with a halved ice cream cone on top. The story goes that it was a joke between a child customer and the ramen chef. We haven’t tried it, but apparently, milk goes well with ramen, whether it’s coconut milk, soy milk or sweet dairy.

5. Due Italian Ramen

If anything can go on top of a pizza, pizza can go on anything — is one of our takeaways from Due Italian. The Michelin-starred ramen restaurant is headed by an Italian cuisine-trained Japanese chef, so the pedigree is just right.

A simple salt ramen is the perfect base for the shop’s classic ramen with mozzarella and prosciutto. Due Italian also offers a creamy cheesy broth dish and chilled tomato-centric ramen dish. Leaning more in the Japanese flavor profile, there are classic ramen potions too, such as soy ramen and salt ramen. So, if you don’t like your ramen being Italian, you have other tasty options. There are several stores including the Ginza one offering lemon ramen. More information on the official website.

Aside from Due Italian, there are many other ramen shops in Japan that have experimented with tomato broth and parmesan topping for a pizza twist to the ramen noodle dish. It’s definitely a tasty concoction, but a divisive one. The verdict is still out on whether it really classifies as ramen.


Honorable Mention: Uma Tsukemen’s Pie Ramen

For another east-meet-west culinary story, head to Tachikawa for pie ramen. Just like chicken pot pie, the noodle dish is sealed under a dome of dough with a cheesy crust.