In many ways, Menya Nukaji is the archetypal artisan noodle counter. Run by a ramen enthusiast who developed his own recipes and set up with his wife, it barely seats eight people and is tucked out of sight on a quiet side street. But the word has been spreading in the two years since owner Hiroshi Nukui moved from suburban Setagaya Ward to the fringe of Shibuya, just around the corner from the Tokyu Hands department store.
Nukui’s ramen and tsukemen (dipping noodles) are rich, honest and wholesome. While the soup is thick — in the popular tonkotsu-gyokai (pork and seafood) style — the noodles are silky-smooth. He also makes a spicy variant (kara-ramen or kara-tsukemen) that is especially comforting in the winter months. And in summer, his hiyashi niku soba (chilled noodles with ground pork) are always light and appetizing.
But what really sets Menya Nukaji apart is its mellow style, and a soundtrack of roots reggae, 1960s and ’70s soul and R&B. Nukui is also a huge fan of craft beer, and always keeps limited edition bottles from two of Japan’s top breweries: Minoh Beer and Shiga Kogen Beer.