Oishii! Ramen on (Literal) Fire!

While every ramen-ya has their own take on the Japanese staple of ramen, Menbakaichidai in Kyoto takes it to a whole hotter level. Their ramen is not “hot” in the spicy sense, but because it is literally put on fire. 
Menbakaichidai’s fire ramen, which is officially named the green onion ramen, is a shoyu (soy sauce)-based ramen, with thin noodles and classic pork slices. What makes this ramen unique from all the other shoyu ramen across Japan is that a chef pours burning oil over the ramen right before it is eaten, so as to fully extract green onion’s aroma and flavor. The result: a flaming pillar of fire in front of your eyes and a delightfully smoky bowl of ramen. Eating fire ramen at Menbakaichidai is definitely not for the faint of heart, but a one-of-a-kind experience not to miss while in Kyoto. 

Every new arrival to the restaurant is directed to the counter facing the kitchen, and so the experience begins. After ordering from the menu, which also includes options other than the fire ramen, including gyoza and fried chicken, each person is handed an oversized bib. Anyone with long hair/bangs is also requested to tie any loose strands back. Before the start of the “show”, the waiters offer to hang any phones from a nearby viewing hooks to safely record the flaming ramen bowls. With one last set of instructions to lean back as far as possible, the bowls of freshly made ramen is brought out, and, one-by-one, each is set to burn a beautiful flame. While the burst of fire only lasts a few seconds, they are very intense— they can reach several feet and they feel like being right in front of a burner. When the oil burns off, the smoky smell lingering in the air entices you to take a bite of the savory bowl of ramen before you. 

-       The owner/main chef of this restaurant has a wealth of amazing stories about his travels abroad and his time working in the restaurant. Make sure to ask him about them when you’re there! (Note: asking in English works just fine)

Eri Lin