At MYCONBINI we also want to have a look at other people with the same drive and passion for Japan as we do. What is it like to live in Tokyo and experience the ramen game? The YouTuber Sebastian from Nama Japan is obsessed with Japanese food culture and his research on various ramen spots in Tokyo is highly recommended. Find out more about him in our recent interview:
Dear Sebastian, we are big fans of your videos. But let's start with: What brought you to Japan?
The job took me here. A few years ago I had an internal transfer from Germany to Japan. However, it is already my third long-term stay in Japan after studying and doing an internship in 2009/2010, a project assignment in 2014 and then this time permanently - until further notice - since 2017.
What does your weekend in Tokyo usually look like?
At the moment the options are of course somewhat limited, but usually alternating day trips, mostly on Saturdays, weekend trips or activities in and around Tokyo / Yokohama. In the spring time, of course, Hanami - picnic style with friends in the park with all sorts of snacks and drinks. Towards summer, we also do BBQ more often or go to the beach. Midsummer is beach time, as the heat in the city is insufferable . Basically, I try to get out for outdoor acitivities as much as possible, because you spend a lot of time inside during the week. Sunday is usually the day of rest, like in Germany, with the difference that you can also do all your shopping since all shops and supermarkets are open.
What's your favorite style of ramen?
Phew, difficult question because my feeling about it changes every 3 three months. The more you discover and try, the more what you value shifts. Right now I'm a big fan of Niboshi Ramen, i.e. ramen with dried fish, a style that I may not have appreciated that much a while ago. But I will probably never say no to a good Tonkotsu Shoyu Bowl.
What food do you miss in Japan?
So actually you can get almost anything in Japan. Good bread is most likely to be difficult to find. Otherwise I miss local German specialties like Maultaschen.
Which ramen spot in Tokyo do you recommend to those new in Japan?
For Tokyo, of course, it depends on where you are anyway. Most will only spend a few days in Tokyo, so it should be a combination of easy access and top shop. Around Tokyo Station, Matsudo Tomita Menban and Menya Shichisai are highly recommended, while around Shinjuku it is Ramen Hayashida and Sobahouse Konjikihototogisu. Around Shibuya the recommendations are a bit thinner, but a good tonkotsu nearby is "Ramen Nagi Butao".
Which ramen spot do you recommend to gourmets on their first trip to Japan?
I suppose this is referring to people who are already interested in ramen and have eaten a few ramen outside of Japan. Then of course it is clear that you should eat every kind ramen which is difficult or impossible to get outside of Japan. That would be, for example, "Ramen Jiro", which is distributed all over Tokyo, with the main shop near Mita Station. Or one of the fish and clam ramen bowls. For fish, there would be "Housenka" or "Touka", for mussels "Mugi to Olive" in Ginza is a good tip. If you want to venture out of your comfort zone, you should move to one of the normal ramen nagis and get one of the niboshi bowls.
What is your favorite ramen style for cooking at home?
So far, a lot with chicken, as the beneficial parts, especially chicken saddle, are easy to get here and in good quality. In addition, you can do a lot with it without the ridiculously long cooking time as with pork for Tonkotsu. Recently I've also started experimenting with niboshi. Recipes for both can be found on my channel and website.
What advice can you give greenhorns when it comes to homemade ramen?
Just start. Simple ramen bowls don't need complicated ingredients to taste good. The simplest are, for example, Tori Paitan Bowls, which are creamy chicken-based ramen. As soon as you have access to soy sauce, mirin and sake, as you have at MYCONBINI, you can actually do almost anything.
Then another matter of the heart: You should put aside the fear of Glumatat (MSG or Ajinomoto). Glutamate is widely used in Japan in general, especially in ramen. There are now a lot of good recipe videos and reading material online. If in doubt, just write me a message on Instagram or as a comment on my YouTube channel, I'll be happy to help.
Great, we're happy! Thanks for your recommendations and good luck for your stay over there.
Subscribe to Sebastian's channels "Nama Japan" here:
MYCONBINI Tip: Find our ramen category here and start the ramen game now.