No Ramen No Life

Everyone has heard of ramen, Japan’s famous noodle soup (popular in instant variety in the US).  Ramen is by far my favorite Japanese food, but I can’t help but think that there’s just not enough risk involved in the process of enjoying it.

Luckily for me, Kyoto’s Menbakaichidai, commonly referred to by tourists as “Fire Ramen,” is here to provide the risk I desire by setting my ramen ablaze.

Menbakaichidai is extremely popular with tourists, so much so that they announce what country their guests are from as they enter the shop.  Of course, this popularity also means that you’ll be waiting for quite a while before you get in–we waited for about an hour.

If you’re anything like me (aka terrified of fire), when you do finally make it in you will be…unnerved when you sit down at the extremely burnt counter.  You’ll then be asked to put a bib literally on your entire body, including your lap, and sit leaning back with your hands behind you.  The shop has fastened selfie sticks to the ceiling, in which you can place your phone to get a video.

Then, they set your ramen on fire.

It is extremely hot, but not dangerous as long as you follow instructions.  Their menu even boasts that nobody is dead…for now.

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After the initial adrenaline rush, you’re left to a tasty meal.  If you’re super hungry, you can get the ramen/fried rice/karaage set, which comes with a hilarious button.

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I desperately want every single one of these buttons

Before you leave, you get an amazing picture commemorating the time you almost died eating ramen.  It looks like this:

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But wait…there’s more.

The owners of Menbakaichidai have recently started a side project called Ramen Factory, where you can go learn how to make ramen from start to finish.  This business is similarly great with creating photo opportunities:

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They also take photos of you throughout the process, so you have pictures documenting literally every step of the ramen-making process, from making the dough

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to punching the dough 100 times (your hands will hurt)

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to turning your dough into noodles

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to roasting your chicken (I should not be allowed to use a blow torch)

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to making your soup

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to, finally, cooking your noodles.

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Making the ramen was so much fun, and it tasted good too, though my noodles did break apart a little bit in the cooking process.

You’re allowed to keep the headband at the end, and if you came from Fire Ramen you get one of the buttons!

If you’re looking to set your love of ramen on fire, take the time to check out Menbakaichidai and Ramen Factory.  It’s worth the wait.

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