Ten ingredients you wouldn’t like to see in the same bowl of ramen:
- Coffee beans
- Coffee noodles
- Eggs (and their yolks)
- Vanilla ice cream
- Gouda (inexorably processed, that is)
- Kamaboko (processed fish cake with mind-numbing preservatives)
with a generous sprinkling of Japanese parmesan cheese, because that’s what you were missing. Listverse, here I come.
Is this the antithesis of Tampopo, the Japanese movie about a woman trying to create the perfect bowl of ramen? Probably. But in a country where using Colonel Sanders as a buoy is so yesterday‘s news, I cautiously introduce you to coffee ramen.
I was tipped off to this unusual feast on the travel site FlyerTalk. The restaurant’s name is 亜呂摩, or Aroma, and it’s located in Ohanajaya, Katsushika district, in the endless sea of black- and graham cracker-tinted hair specifically known as Tokyo, but generally known as Japan. Rookie word of advice: don’t go on Wednesdays- that’s the off day. I carelessly made the nearly hour long trek from Narita Airport first on a Wednesday, and got shot down. The typhoon happening at the time made it that much more of a thrill, as umbrellas suddenly lose their will to live.
The chef is an elderly man, affable and used to foreigners. Not that the restaurant gets too many non-Japanese in the first place, but he’ll probably ask you to sign a guestbook, Pre-consumption of said ramen. Don’t worry about being honest- that’s not the Japanese way… ah yes, if you don’t speak any of the lingo, he offers picture menus of the soup. He told me he changes the ingredients, or toppings might be a better word, every once and again, but don’t fret, for parmesan cheese is a staple garnish. You can try it hot or cold, but because I wanted to make it back to my hotel without being slumped over the whole time, I tried it cold.
Oh, and I don’t even like coffee.
After all of the muted hype, it wasn’t half-bad, better yet, as of March 2013 it cost only ¥700 (which can be anywhere from US$6.40-8.50, depending on how skilled you are in the forex game). The noodles were skillfully cooked, and the chef appeared humbled by his bizarre creation. Sure, that pink and white ninja weapon is none other than kamaboko, patiently seated atop banana and kiwi slices, and the coffee bean riding the egg yolk evokes Salvador Dalí, but the majority of the dish, true to its name, had the flavor of (sweetened) coffee, which apparently keeps bringing ’em in.
Don’t cower out and eat the toppings by themselves. That ham looks way too relaxed on the sidelines. Take a piece, then scoop out some kiwi and egg, dip it into the murky broth and slurp to your heart’s content. Fact is, I rarely eat any type of ramen, since most of the time I feel as if I’m in a salt mine while doing so. Also, if you’re not too adept at using chopsticks, it would seem wise to eat ramen if you’re not wearing a shirt.
Is it time you experienced coffee ramen? If you’ve already tried it, do you want to know where to find life’s rewind button?