Why do the Japanese love ramen so much? It seems like every week television programs, magazines and websites are ranking and reviewing the countless ramen shops across the country; and every week thousands of people set off to see what all the fuss is about.

Today we’d like to offer you a list of 5 ramen shops in Tokyo (and 1 in Chiba) that we’ve been fussing about. However, instead of ranking the tastiest broth or thickest noodles, this list aims to give our fellow ramen-lovers a few unique recommendations for the next time they’re looking to try something a little different.

Note: All links aside 5 are currently Japanese-only.

1. Hakuta Ramen Barikote (Koenji, Tokyo)
This shop saw a sudden boost in business after being praised by comedian Cunning Takeyama via twitter – and for good reason! The thick, stew-like broth is deceptively light and refreshing in taste, yet packs enough flavor to keep that spoon in your hand until the very end. Our top recommendation for anyone in the mood for Hakuta-style ramen.
If you do decide to go, it might be wise to go when you have some time to spare as lines do form and you may have to wait just to get inside.

2. Ariran Ramen Hachibei (Chosei-gun, Chiba prefecture)
Located in the heart of the mountains, Arira Ramen takes the title of “most difficult to reach ramen shop in Japan.” The ramen is notable for holding something of a homely appearance while maintaining that delicious flavor that you can only find at restaurants. Our self-proclaimed ramen connoisseur, Mr. Ozaki comments: “this is a ramen that takes you to the (physical) limits of b-level gourmet.”

3. Papapapapapain (Nishi-Ogikubo, Tokyo)
In case you were wondering, the name of this restaurant it taken from its specialty: pineapple ramen. Using slices of roast pork carefully with the fat carefully trimmed and a handful of diced pineapple, this takes our pick for the most refreshing and fruity bowl of ramen. We recommend the chilled pineapple salt flavor ramen, preferably on a hot day.

4. Aoshima Shokudo(Akihabara, Tokyo)
Spoken highly of by Akihabara locals and enthusiasts as the best ramen in the district. The rich, ginger-flavored broth permeates into the noodles and makes for an strong and exquisite flavor. The cheapest and most travel-convenient restaurant featured on this list, not to mention a refined taste that only long-standing shops like this are capable of. A must-try for any Akihabara-lover!

5. Kikuya (Kita-Senju, Tokyo)
The home of ice cream ramen, which safely takes the “who would have thought” award. Watch as the convenience store-bought ice cream cone melts away to transform the lightly-flavored broth into a rich and creamy soup! Then take spoon in hand, for next it’s your turn to melt from this shockingly delicious flavor.

We realize that this list is exclusive to East Japan and we’re hard at work compiling a list of similarly novel ramen shops in other parts of the country. Until then, hope on a train and get tasting!

Photos: RocketNews24.