Tentemari (Ramen), Shimokitazawa

Tentemari is a Ramen shop a minute away from the station, in one of those exotic little Shimokitazawa streets. They specialize in the Tan Tan Men dish, a Ramen dish which is usually quite hot and spicy. The restaurant got featured on the quite popular "Dochi No Ryori Show" TV food show few years ago, cooking the dish for bunch of celebrities. Ironically, I remember not trying this place for a while because of the sign outside the restaurant saying they got on that program. Just thought it was lame.

But it was too bad for me, as it turned out they serve a pretty good Ramen, though I feel their powerfully sesame flavored soup has unfortunately gotten thinner over the years (which still doesn't prevent me from going few times a month!)

The Dian Dian Mian (Tan Tan Men in Japanese) is originally a Sichuan dish, and the popular Ramen (soupy) version is more a Japanese remix of the usually dry original Chinese recipe. The character for Dian (or Tan if read in Japanese) means carry or shoulder and came to be utilized in the name of the dish, since the streets vendors/cooks used to carry all their ingredients and utensils on a pole. Having to balance all that on the shoulders made a soupy dish not too practical. The soupy version also exists in China, but it's really the Japanese who popularized the "wet" version in the late 20th century.

Tan Tan Men with Bang Bang Ji

At Tentemari, you buy your ticket at a vending machine right at the entrance. You will have to choose between mild, hot and very hot and also what topping(s) you want on it (plain or with boiled chicken Bang Bang Ji style or with braised pork Kakuni and so on). I usually go for hot, as it gives the soup a nice kick. I happen to love Bang Bang Ji, so it's really a no-brainer for me as far as toppings are concerned.
The soup is quite thick, with a nice combination of zhi ma jiang (sesame paste with oil), chili-infused vegetable oil Rayu and Sansho (Chinese pepper). As with all Tan Tan Men, there is minced meat on top of the noodles, as well as radish sprouts and chinese cabbage Chingensai.
You get a free boiled egg with your noodles at lunch, and a complimentary bowl of rice for both lunch and dinner.

The above dish is far from being cheap at ¥950, not to mention that I find that the soup has lost a bit of its spicy kick, but I still recommend this place as a good introduction and good example of a nice Tan Tan Men.
They're also open until 3:30am, which is convenient when you need a bowl of Ramen to wake you up from a heavy drinking session at one of the many Shimokitazawa bars...

Remember "Tom's Kitchen" has a nice dry version of the Tan Tan Men should you be interested.

"Tentemari" is open from 11:00am to 03:30am from Tuesday to Saturday and from 11:00am to 11:00pm on Sunday, Monday and National Holidays
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-12-7
click here for a MAP