When it comes to ramen, there are many tastes and regional variations whether it be shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), tonkotsu (pork bone broth) in Kyushu or miso ramen which is served up in Hokkaido. On top of that come the crazy novelty ones which include things like cheese, coffee, ice-cream, tequila, kiwi, ham, pizza, sake and so on. The kind of things that the true ramen masters would most definitely turn their nose up at!
As the title suggests (and the picture above shows), there are a couple of fruity ones which can be added to that list of quirky dishes. Just a couple of minutes walk from the west exit of Ikebukuro Station (on the street behind McDonalds) is a restaurant called Torisoba Kotobuki (1-18-1 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-Ku) where the number one most popular dish is lemon soba.
At 880 yen, it’s on the more expensive side of noodle dishes but for a one-off occasion it’s not too bad really. There is an English menu on the wall but not on the machine itself. If you can’t read Japanese then just look for the button on the top row with the “No. 1” sign pointing to it!
The soup is made from a chicken broth and delivers a rather thick, creamy taste with a citrus twist and chewy noodles of which you decide the thickness after handing your ticket to the staff. I have to say that I absolutely loved this dish and the sourness of the lemon actually combines really well with the rich soup. The more you squeeze the juice from the lemon slices, the more refreshing it all becomes.
A few months before that I was in Machida and seized upon the opportunity to have some morning pineapple ramen at the awesomely named Pa Pa Pa Pa Pain (3-1-4 Haramachida, Machida-shi) restaurant. For the record, the last word is pronounced as pine in Japanese rather than pain! All the ramen options feature the tropical fruit so I went for the basic 700 yen one which was a bit on the small side. Yet again I was surprised at how good it all tasted. It seems I made a big mistake though by not paying a bit extra for a soft boiled egg as the chef marinates them in pineapple juice for extra zing and a more yellow-coloured egg-white.
The shio (salt) ramen is made with a soup consisting of about 25% pineapple juice and seafood stock. Topped with pineapple chunks, it’s no surprise that there is a fruity flavour but is not overly empowering and somehow blends well with the pork to create a fairly light taste.
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