This week, Michelin announced their selections for the best restaurants in Tokyo. The list is comprised of 153 restaurants from around the city as well as 343 more Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurants — Michelin’s award for restaurants in a lower price tier (offering a two-course meal and a wine or dessert for $40 or less). The Bib Gourmand list is no stranger to ramen restaurants, with year’s list having a total of 27 including standouts Konjiki Hototogisu and Kagari. This year, however, Michelin announced its first-ever Michelin-starred ramen shop, Tsuta.
Tsuta, located in the Sugamo neighborhood of Tokyo, occupies a small, unassuming space on the first floor of a three-story building. According to an article in the Japan Times, there is routinely a half-hour wait regardless of weather conditions. That wait is likely to increase exponentially with the Michelin announcement. The most expensive items on Tsuta’s menu run for roughly $8, an absolute steal compared to Tokyo’s most prestigious three-star sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, where 20 pieces of sushi can run for a minimum of $300. Tsuta takes its ramen noodles very seriously. They craft their noodles from four kinds of stone-ground wheat, in contrast to other ramen shops that use predominately buckwheat.
How an $8 ramen shop ended up on a list full of heavy hitters is anyone’s guess. In a Wall Street Journal article, a Michelin spokeswoman wouldn’t explain past the fact that the restaurant scored high in all of the categories addressed by the judges. Regardless of price, Tsuta now holds the title of best ramen shop in Tokyo, alongside its shiny new Michelin star.