The Nine-Seat Noodle Bar With A Michelin Star

Tsuta Michelin
  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • December 04, 2015 at 1:40 PM

A tiny noodle bar in Tokyo has become one of the smallest places in the world to receive a Michelin Star. Tsuta, in the city’s northern neighbourhood of Sumago, is also the first ramen restaurant to ever earn a coveted star rating in the Michelin Guide.

Ramen dominates street corner shops in Japan’s capital, and is also experiencing a moment on the international food scene. In recent years, ramen restaurants have popped up all around the world, from Hong Kong to New York, London and locally in Sydney and Melbourne.

The soup-and-noodle dish has been a cult favourite for years, and there are actually many established restaurants in countries like Australia and Canada that already have a huge following of foodies. Previous Michelin Guides for Tokyo have also made note of the top ramen places by awarding “Bib Gourmand awards” to them.

“Bib Gourmands, are becoming more and more popular and reflect Tokyo’s dynamic culinary diversity,” the Michelin Guide website says.

“This award is for those establishments offering quality food at affordable prices and for this edition the limit is 5,000 JPY or less.”

Tsuta – which has ramen prices from $9.50 to $13.30 – was previously a Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Tokyo Michelin Guide. It’s graduation to a One Star rating smashes preconceptions that all Michelin Starred restaurants have to be fancy (and expensive).

“The most important thing is that customers like our ramen,” Takatoshi Itami, one of the restaurant’s cooks, says in a statement to the press.

“We have good reviews thanks to them – getting a star was not our priority.”

Tsuta has earned a number of local ramen awards, including a Tokyo Ramen of the Year (TRY) magazine award for best new shop in 2013.

It also has an average of four stars on Trip Advisor and Yelp, with one US reviewer saying it was “hands down the best shoyu ramen I’ve ever had”.

The Michelin website has an updated review for Tsuta reflecting it’s one-star status, and the new Michelin Guide Tokyo 2016 is available as a digital book from 4th December 2015.

Images: Screenshot from Michelin Guide’s online review of Tsuta, source: Michelin website; shoyu ramen at Tsuta, source: Guilheim Vellut (Flickr).

Tsuta ramen
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