Visiting Japan and not tasting ramen would be like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower. Knowing this, my husband and I made sure to include ramen restaurants in our Japan travel plans. However, finding halal-certified ramen in Japan can be challenging (at least for us).
The reason behind this difficulty is that most traditional ramen broths in Japan are not made from chicken, unlike the versions you might find in Indonesia.
But don't worry, if you're planning to visit Japan and you're on the hunt for halal ramen, this article has you covered.
The ramen restaurant I'm focusing on is Ramen Honolu Shinjuku Gyoenmae. It's situated at Dia Palace B1, 1-31-3 Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022. This restaurant is actually a branch of Honolu Ebisu, also located in Tokyo.
We opted for the Shinjuku location over the Ebisu one primarily because the latter often has long wait times. Fortunately, we had a smooth experience at the Shinjuku branch; there was no wait, and ordering was a breeze.
To get there, exit the nearest subway station, Shinjuku-gyoenmae on the Marunouchi Line, via Exit 2. The restaurant is an easy 300-meter, 4-minute walk away.
Although the restaurant is in the basement of a building, it's relatively easy to find as it's visible from the road. Google Maps guided us right to the location, and a sign by the stairs confirmed we were in the right place.
Ramen Honolu Shinjuku Gyoenmae is open daily from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM and then reopens from 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
This mid-day closing is common in Japan, as restaurants often take a break to prep for the dinner rush. Given Japan's long working hours, dinner time is a popular occasion for dining out.
Ordering food in Japan can be unique, especially for newcomers. Many restaurants, including this one, use vending machines for orders. If you've never tried this, don't worry—I hadn't either. Here's how it works:
The machine usually displays pictures and names of the dishes in both Japanese and English. Take your time and don't feel rushed. If you're unsure about anything, feel free to ask the staff for help.
Once you've decided, press the corresponding number button under the dish name. A red light will indicate that the item has been selected. In addition to ramen, the machine also offers a variety of drinks like Green Tea, Apple Juice, Fanta, Coca-Cola, and Teh Botol.
The final step is to pay. The machine accepts cash only, in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 Yen. Once you insert the money, it will print a ticket for your order.
Keep this ticket and hand it to the staff, who will then guide you to your seat. We were fortunate enough cause' we sat in front of the open kitchen. Yay!
This was my choice, as I was avoiding spicy foods. The ramen bowl contained a half-boiled egg, minced chicken, chicken chashu, bamboo shoots, and a garnish of green onions.
A seaweed sheet was served on the side. The chicken broth was incredibly thick and creamy—unlike any ramen I've had before.
It was rich, savory, and satisfying, living up to its name. Priced at 1,390 Yen (approximately 9.48 USD), it was worth every penny.
Costing 1,690 Yen (around USD 11,43), this bowl featured noodles, crispy fried chicken, bamboo shoots, and a sheet of nori (seaweed). The most notable aspect was its red, spicy broth.
While the spiciness was moderate compared to some "devilishly" spicy noodles we tried in Indonesia, it was enough to make my husband sweat a little.
We also ordered a side of chicken gyoza. These half-moon-shaped dumplings were filled with minced chicken, cabbage, leeks, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. They were cooked to have a crispy bottom while the top remained soft. A serving contains five pieces and is priced at 680 yen (about USD 4,60).
We concluded our meal with some authentic Japanese green tea, priced at 300 Yen. It's important to note that traditional Japanese green tea is unsweetened and can taste a bit bitter. But it's a healthy option and widely popular in Japan.
Our experience at Ramen Honolu in Tokyo was truly fulfilling, especially for those seeking halal options. If you're planning a trip to Japan, Ramen Honolu is definitely worth considering for an authentic Japanese ramen experience. We'd love to hear about your own experiences, so please share them in the comments section. See you again!