THE SPICIEST RAMEN IN JAPAN
September 5, 2016 [category:Japan Sightseeing]
Ramen, ramen, ramen!
You know it! It's everywhere!
Back in the USA when I was a kid, the babysitter use to make me instant ramen.
She would boil the noodles, the drain them like spaghetti, mix the flavor packet with the dry noodles, and make me eat it.
I hated ramen.
Little did I know that this wasn't real ramen... this was some kid taste bud torture device; but it was all I knew.
After arriving in Japan, I was over at a friend's house, and his wife ask me if I would like some ramen.
Remembering my past experience, I politely declined... but she insisted.
So I sat down and prepared myself for the assault on decent food that I thought was coming, only what she served up delighted me to no end.
The noodles which had been dry, salty, and chicken flavored in my youth were now being served up in a deep bowl with a salty, savory broth.
The noodles were topped with some cabbage and an egg, and the whole thing was just wonderful.
That right there piqued my interest in re-discovering ramen.
Ramen here in Japan is an art form. There are you standard types, like miso ramen and shou ramen, and then it goes on to infinity from there.
The ramen you buy in the store for pennies on the dollar? That stuff doesn't even compare to real, handmade ramen.
I've found that I like my ramen spicy. A good spicy ramen is just sooooo good.
It's not like hot pepper spicy, but a warm spice that's almost like an Indian curry kind of spice.
My favorite spicy ramen is called dan dan mein.
It's actually from China, but that Japanese have a take on it that's out of this world.
You can get it with a white sesame base, or with a more common red base.
I've found that a good miso based dan dan mein soup can taste almost like a spicy cheese soup. Really delicious.
One time I went to a ramen place that advertised they had the spiciest ramen in all of Japan.
I decided to challenge that assertion. When my order came,
there was my ramen... it looked normal, noodles in soup... nothing special; but piled high on top was a mountain of red pepper.
A mountain. I had a Mt. Fuji of red pepper on my ramen. Not easily dissuaded, I stirred it up and mixed it in.
Taking my first slurp with the chopsticks,
I was amazed to find that it had so much red pepper that the noodles tasted like they were made of cheap metal,
they didn't taste like food at all. My girlfriend at the time begged me to stop, but I wouldn't until the very last noodle was eaten.
I tried to drink the soup, but I just couldn't. Later in the evening I got sick and couldn't leave the house for a day.
A month later, that ramen shop was out of business.