Even in the middle of the afternoon on a gray, rainy-season Monday, the queue in front of us is the best part of an hour deep and moving at snail's pace. Only to be expected at Tokyo Skytree, you might say. Except we're not lining up for the observation deck: We're there for the new branch of the legendary ramen joint Rokurinsha.

Can a basic noodle counter founded a mere seven years ago and barely big enough to seat 12 truly qualify as a legend? In the case of Rokurinsha, most definitely yes — in fact twice over.

First things first: The ramen really is outstanding. It's not the classic style, served in a large bowl with hot broth. Instead, the house special is tsukemen, with a thick, rich soup on the side, served as a dip separate from the noodles. Initially disparaged by ramen purists, over the past decade tsukemen has become so massively popular it's almost a genre unto itself.