31, rue des Petits Champs, in the 1st Arrondissement.
Mon–Sat, noon–2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.–10 p.m.
No phone, no reservations.
The neighborhood around the rue Ste.-Anne, sometimes called Little Japan or Little Tokyo, overflows with Japanese restaurants, themselves overflowing with hungry people—local business people, students, families—lined up for inexpensive soba, udon, rice bowls or ramen.
Newcomer Naritake (full name Kotteri Ramen Naritake) serves ramen, and while I’m reluctant to use the word best for any restaurant, the ramen served here is head and shoulders above any I’ve had in Paris.
I happen to love a good dive, and Naritake, with its garish fluorescent lighting and kitchen in need of a once- (or thrice-) over with the mop, falls firmly into this category. The kitchen is a steamy puddle of pork broth and boiling water, already wrecked when I arrived, just 15 minutes after service began. I had a front-row seat for the slop, at a counter seat right next to the threshold of the galley kitchen, where I could see some things that, frankly, you might not want to see, including the very thing that makes the broth here special: ramen in Japan is characterized by regional and proprietary distinctions, and Naritake, the first foreign outpost of a shop outside Tokyo, enriches its soy sauce– or miso-flavored broths with fatback, which sat quivering in a huge pot next to the noodles. Still hungry?
I hope so, because despite the chaotic feel, these guys clearly know what they’re doing. The broth is fantastic (I saw the cooks draining a massive stock pot of pork bones), and the house-made noodles not one second overcooked. I went for the miso, golden and nutty, heaped with karanegi—piquant scallions, shaved into a heap—and thinly sliced rounds of tender roast pork, some seriously funky pickled bamboo buried beneath. I had an order of gyoza, too, with good thin skins and savory pork and scallion filling.
This is not a place to linger; you probably won’t want to, and the servers and the people waiting outside definitely don’t want you to. But for a quick, delicious meal in the center of Paris, Naritake is an excellent choice.
In a nutshell: Go early, or get in line at Naritake for some of the best ramen in Paris.
Price check: Noodles, 9–12 euros; starters and garnishes, 1–5 euros.
For a different noodle, go for udon at Kunitoraya, around the corner. Read the review.
38, rue Ste.-Anne, in the 1st.
01 47 03 33 65. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. daily.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking tour, check out our DIY downloadable tours.