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When Ramen And Michelin Stars Intersect In Tokyo, Japan

“The ultimate ramen is something that exists perfectly in the moment”

~ Quote from the Ramen Heads documentary

On November 29, 2017, Nakiryu was awarded its first Michelin star.  Nakiryu is only the second ramen restaurant in the world to receive this prestigious honor.  Tsuta was the first and they are both located in Toshima, a Tokyo Prefecture.  We visited Nakiryu in early October of 2018.

To be awarded a Michelin star and ultimately be listed in the Michelin Guide is no easy accomplishment.  There are no specific guidelines available for restaurants regarding how to obtain this level of recognition.  Some known objectives are the chefs ability to achieve the highest levels of mastery in terms of flavors and cooking techniques.  Consistency in regards to the food and dining experience are also key.  If the first visit by the anonymous Michelin Guide inspector is favorable, a second visit will take place approximately one year later. The road to a Michelin star is not a rapid one.  Receiving one star is not a guarantee that more stars will be awarded in the future, and restaurants can lose stars if they do not maintain the Michelin standards. The most stars a restaurant can be awarded is three.

At Nakiryu there was a clear reverence for the ingredients and the noodle preparation.  The way the ramen noodles were expertly and visibly laid out on the counter waiting for their arrangement in the bowls elevated our anticipation.  From the precise placement of the noodles, to the ladling of the broth, to the moment the bowl is handed to the customer, there is a sense of ceremony.  This was my maiden voyage to Japan as well as our first visit to a Michelin star restaurant.

There is no question in our minds as to why Nakiryu received their star.  For us, the taste of the ramen and the moments we spent there were impeccable and we won’t ever forget it.

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