For the last eight years in a row, Tokyo has been at the top of the gourmet world, home to the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. For the 2016 Michelin guide, a tiny nine-seater restaurant in the Japanese capital was awarded its first-ever star, and what the star was given for is what has food lovers around the world talking. For the first time in history, the famously hard-to-please Michelin awarded its coveted star to a local noodle shop for ramen.

Even just over a decade ago, if anyone said that a bowl of ramen would one day be considered  Michelin star-worthy, no one would have believed it. But now, there are ramen restaurants all over the world, making it unnecessary for folks who love ramen to travel all the way to Japan just to get a decent bowl. However, you may want to dig deep for an airline ticket if you're a ramen junkie because one ramen shop received recognition from  the demanding food critics of Michelin as serving the best ramen in the world. 

Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, a tiny ramen joint in the Sugamo district of Tokyo, was just recently awarded a Michelin star for the new 2016 rankings. What makes Tsuta especially mouth-watering for customers are the very affordable prices for their award-winning noodles. Having only nine seats at an L-shaped counter, Tsuta serves its signature shoyu ramen, or soy sauce broth ramen, for anywhere from 950 to 1250 yen. That's about ten dollars for a bowl, no different from most ramen restaurants in Japan. What makes Tsuta so special are the ingredients. The tare (sauce) for the signature soy sauce broth is made from a blend of three different soy. The main is from Shodoshima, a small island in the middle of Japan's Seto Inland Sea, and the other two are raw unpasteurized soy sauces, one from Ibaraki and the other from Wakayama prefecture. And as if that weren't enough, the broth even has in it a little red wine and black Italian truffle oil! The noodles are made on the premises, straight out of pure 100% Japanese wheat. Besides the famous shoyu ramen, Tsuta also serves shio soba, or salt broth noodles, which uses Okinawan sea salt and a special salt from Mongolia. Unlike the soy sauce broth, the salt broth uses white Italian truffle oil. You can select your toppings accordingly, and even order a 250 yen niku mesh, which is a bowl of white rice topped with tender chashu pork. (My stomach is grumbling as we speak.)

Since Michelin announced the rankings for 2016 on December 1st, the lines to eat at Tsuta have gotten even longer than before, not that the tiny ramen shop ever hurt for customers. Last year, it was crowned the #1 spot for new shops in Tokyo Ramen of the Year magazine, so regulars aren't surprised at its sudden worldwide recognition. They may be a little upset now, though. The wait to get seated at the counter in the tiny shop during peak hungry hours is said to be about four hours long. 

Happy slurping!


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