It will probably be a long wait if you want to dine at Afuri, a popular ramen restaurant in Tokyo.
Afuri has many outlets in Tokyo and we went to the one in Harajuku. The small unit sits just under 20 diners at one time, but the number of hungry diners in the queue is easily three times more than that. Everyone comes here for the famous yuzu ramen, and we too joined the queue on a cold night – when the temperature was almost single digit and the winds were strong.
But that did not stop us (or anyone else) from waiting for a seat at Afuri. We were to realise that it was going to be a great dinner.
The queue at Afuri may be (more often than not) long, but the system is a efficient one. You stand in line and start dreaming about your yuzu ramen. Then, the waitstaff will let diners in by batches.
Once you are let in, head straight for the vending machine to place your order. And when there are empty seats, you are at your final step to getting your ramen. Just pass your order slip to the chefs, and your food should be served to you in five minutes’ time.
Apart from yuzu ramen, there are regular ramen shio and shoyu bowls, tsukeen and donburi options. But we say go straight for the signature yuzu ramen that comes in both shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) variation.
They don’t taste drastically different, except that the shoyu one has a slightly richer saltiness. But in both, you get a very fragrant broth that exudes yuzu fragrance and a subtle richness of chicken oil.
Every bowl comes with a half seasoned egg, a slice of grilled pork, bamboo shoots and seaweed. The ramen itself is firm and springy, just the way we like it to be. The egg has a runny yolk and is thoroughly flavoured throughout.
But what you have to totally pay attention to is the grilled pork.
You might have noticed the flame grill in the open-concept kitchen upon stepping in, and that is where the magic is done. The pork slices are freshly grilled to order, and every slice is served warm with a distinct charred fragrance. Melt-in-your-mouth and oh so good; we ordered extra helpings because it is a crime to pass.
Indeed, Afuri has some pretty awesome ramen that is quite different from the norm. We shall try the tsukemen on our next visit!
1F 117 Bld., 1-1-7 Ebisu
Tel: 03 5795 0750
Daily: 11am – 5am
Nearest Station: Ebisu
1F Grandeforesta, 3-63-1 Sendagaya
Tel: 03 6438 1910
Daily: 10.30am – 3am
Nearest Station: Harajuku JR Station