In the basement of Tokyo Station, amidst a dizzying biosphere of restaurants, lies the ultimate manifestation of Japan’s ramen obsession. Called Ramen Dori (ramen street), it’s a collection of eight steamy noodle bars brought to you by the most famous of Tokyo’s young noodle kings. Streams of people snake out from every joint, but one line dwarfs them all: Rokurinsha. On the afternoon I ate there, 136 ravenous noodleheads lined up before me.

Rokurinsha serves tsukumen ramen, perhaps the hottest trend in the fad-prone world of ramen, wherein the noodles and broth are dished out separately. The noodles, served cool and slicked with molten pork fat, retain their texture from start to finish, unlike traditional bowls of ramen, where the scalding broth eventually compromises even the most expertly-made noodles (which is why Japanese businessmen eat their ramen faster than most Westerners can get control of their chopsticks). Tsukumen broth, reduced until it’s thick enough to cling to your chopsticks, is used as a dip for the noodles, and later—with some of the cooking water from the noodles, if you’re a serious eater—for slurping straight from the bowl. The result, in its finest iterations (i.e. here!), is ramen as religious experience, the thick, golden noodles with an alkaline tang and a haunting chew that an Italian grandma would kill to reproduce. The broth, an ultra-intense distillation of pork, chicken, and seafood taken over the top with a pile of powdered bonito flakes added at the last second, is good enough to flood your dome with a rush of umami-triggered endorphins.

Is it the best bowl of ramen in Tokyo? Who the hell knows. There are, at last count, 5,137 shops dishing out the stuff, so no one can say with any level of assurance who occupies the top tier of the totem. I can say, unequivocally, that it’s the finest noodle soup I’ve ever eaten. I did happen to “read” two Japanese food magazines dedicated entirely to ramen while over there that put this bowl squarely above the other 5,136 shops, for whatever that’s worth.