Best Ramen in Tokyo? My Mensoubou Mutekiya Experience! Mensoubou 無敵屋
I first heard of Mensoubou Mutekiya when my grade school classmate and her family (who is also the current “political first family” of my hometown, Tagum City) visited Tokyo last year. We (meaning them, with myself) had a dinner somewhere in Shibuya and the Filipino community here in Tokyo, who were originally from Davao. At that time, after going home back to their hotel somewhere in Ikebukuro, they informed all of us who were still there that time before we finally parted ways that the hotel they were staying in suggested they try the so-called “best ramen in Japan” (or should I say, “Best Ramen in Ikebukuro?”) during their stay.
Given my past culinary experience in Japan during the 1990s and my Filipinized Japanese cuisine exposure to Toki, I wasn’t really that very interested because for some reason, my taste buds are not really that picky. But one thing I always found to be very interesting is that regardless of what day or what time I would pass by the area since the place first registered in my consciousness, I would really see a lot of people queuing just to have their lunch or dinner or late night munch in this very quaint dining spot while the other nearby restaurants are either half empty or half full, depending on how you look at it.
And so, after conquering the Oizumi-cho to Ikebukuro route for the third time last Sunday, I thought to myself maybe this time around, my tummy deserves some pampering and eat outside. It’s Golden Week after all. And yes, I’ve been here in Tokyo for almost a year now and yet I don’t
have the budget and the time to go out that much.
I haven’t really “desperately queued” a lot in my life even in Manila. I can only remember waiting and falling in line for government requirements (e.g. NBI clearance, Driver’s License, voting) or some Ai-Ai delas Alas movie (lol!) but I never do the same for clubs or bars or whatever Metro Manila has to hype for the moment (e.g. Uniqlo, Jamba Juice, Embassy, Republic.)
But at this time, I just felt the need to finally taste this darn place or forever hold thy peace (I’m graduating soon, after all.) Anyway, to cut it short, for the price of JPY980 yen which is around P400, a bowl of ramen might be expensive from a Filipino’s perspective. However, the price is actually very competitive in the Tokyo area especially since I really did appreciate the taste. I seriously don’t know how to describe it though but what I ordered (picture above) tasted like sweetened braised (or pressure cookered) pork with sesame oil and whatnots. It was actually very delicious and the weird egg (is this Century?) also added a special twist to the savory experience.
However, what really made me very appreciative was the place was very small and compact and the menu was very intensive. Thus, from an operational standpoint, my food-tasting experience actually made me think about opening my own noodle shop in Manila after graduating from GLOBIS. Rather than go all-out ala Chinese restaurants with millions of choices, I’ll follow their very focused selections to minimize costs and optimize my operations. Anyway, this was just one of the million thoughts running through my head while slurping and instagramming what I was eating. To be honest, I could have finished the meal within 15 minutes and left, but given I had to wait more than half an hour to get a table, I had to savor every portion of the ramen bit by bit.
If ever you find yourself in Tokyo specifically anywhere in Ikebukuro, I would suggest you try the place as well. It’s right next Ikebukuro Station. Once you exit Libro and Muji and see Citibank and adidas across the street, just turn right until you see a major intersection. Chances are, if you happen to drop by during mealtime, you’d know you’re at the right place because of the long line of patiently waiting, hungry customers outside.