Finding a Good Ramen Shop
From the outside:
Ramen is guy food, so ask an oyaji (old guy).
Any place where you see a bunch of guys in suits not talking or drinking, but eating you should do OK. Taxi drivers are good sources of information.
A ramen place should be small and a little dirty ( like a good Chinese resturant ).
Don't trust places where people are lined up as some places make it a point to keep people waiting so that you can see people queued up.
Places with ticket machines are generally not good because that means the owner
isn't around. He will leave his employess that cannot be trusted with money to
serve you something.
No flashing signs out front ( my wife swears by this rule for all resturants ).
From the inside:
A little dingy but not overtly disgusting.
A cranky old guy that makes it known he wants you to eat up and get out is obviously in charge.
There is not a lot of other stuff ( especially set menus ) on the menu besides ramen.
The counter is all guys over 30 in suits.
You can easily spot where to get water and crushed garlic and pepper are out.
Handwritten menus or one menu on the wall (there are lots of exceptions to this
From the preparation:
You can see them making it.
The bowl is rinsed out with hot water to bring it up to the right temperature.
The chasyu is not cold ( this is a big one). Cold / Refrigerated chasyu can quickly turn cardboard-like and flavorless.
It is served with a scowl :)