Tsujita Oku No In | つじ田 奥の院
Style: Niboshi Shoyu
Bowl to Crush: Niboshi Shoyu Jou | 煮干蕎麦 上
Tsujita-san is one of Japan's most commercially successful ramen chefs. He opened his first shop over ten years ago and now has close to ten shops in central Tokyo and several more overseas, including restaurants in Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Tsujita's usual house specialty is tonkotsu gyokai (a blend of pork-bone soup and seafood) spiked with sudachi, a Japanese citrus fruit. Tsujita is popular for both tsukemen and ramen, but the tsukemen is particularly on point — decadent and delicious. The noodles at all Tsujita shops in Japan come from the famed noodle maker Mikawaya Seimen.
In early 2015, Tsujita-san debuted Tsujita Oku No In. This shop is located directly behind Tsujita's longstanding flagship shop. 'Oku no in' is a Japanese phrase meaning hidden cranny or inner sanctuary, and the shop is, indeed, almost hidden – finding the entrance can be a little tricky. Just ask the staff at the main Tsujita shop and they will direct you to the small entrance shrouded in bamboo around the corner.
Oku No In serves an intoxicating niboshi ramen (dried baby sardine-based soup). The cloudy shoyu soup is almost bitter, the niboshi is so marvelously potent and bursting with umami. Excellent stuff. Fans of Nagi Golden Gai will definitely enjoy this shop. Strong niboshi ramen is admittedly an acquired taste – sort of like a double-IPA in the craft beer world. It grows on you.
Although the flagship Tsujita shop is the most famous among Tsujita-san's many shops (and certainly should be sampled), the real gem is Oku No In in our view. The shop has an elegant Japanese interior – lots of hinoki wood and an almost Zen-like atmosphere that harmonizes perfectly with the food.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-11pm; Sat-Sun & Holidays: 11am-9pm
Days Closed: None
4-8-14 Iidabashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo