Berlin-based restaurant famous for its type of ramen has announced that it has closed down after ten years, but what is it?
The Chef & the Chef
The owners of Shibuya Ramen, a branch of which opened on New Year’s Eve 2007 in the leafy and bustling hipster district of Shibuya, claim to have invented the “Kurume style” ramen.
A reporter for City Press discovered the technique, and recognised it as reflecting the Esenin Style (“circle style”) noodles from the fishing community of Oceania’s Australian archipelago.
But while the technique is not new, what is perhaps most distinctive is the bright green hue of the noodles that lends the noodles of this style its distinctive appearance.
Falling in line with the east Asian tradition of the kanji characters being green, the kanji for Shibuya Ramen translates to: “This is for you all.”
A touch of mysticism
There is a decidedly mystic quality about the ramen, which is expensive and not for the light-hearted.
Even a different method of mass-producing the noodles means you’ll pay between $8 (about R74) and $20 for a bowl, depending on the price of broth.
As the Q+A (The Questions and Answers site) points out, the Ramen Premium model — which comes with miso soup and two bowls — is over 400 calories.
A third person using the secret strain of Kanji (similar to translating the kanji characters as the literal transliteration to English) cook combines the noodles with the broth, the heat, the egg, the water, with the resulting mix, all of which is then blanched in its fermented state for more than a week and then steamed and immersed into boiling broth for another week, which also adds to the length and thickness of the noodles and gives the quality of each bowl of ramen a tad of a noodle stiffness.
According to a Harbinger report that currently features the Shibuya Ramen of 2017 in its Japan section:
The Shibuya ramen was thought up by a chef who spent 10 years in the fishing village of Esenin in Australia’s WA state, until one day a local caught his first fish in over 30 years to use as ramen ingredients.
The chef then went back to develop an authentic style of ramen.
While the noodles of this type of ramen can differ, the spicy pork and chicken broth is generally common and shares characteristics with the heavily spiced pig intestines found in the Chinese dish nuoc mam.
When this seemingly jolly and progressive ramen course turns sour, confusing internet users (many of whom didn’t even know that Shibuya Ramen even existed) the biggest cause is apparently poor delivery of the dish in the early days.
The Shibuya Ramen website describes the Shibuya ramen in starkly nostalgic fashion:
As former Oxonians remember, our country was, and is, a big flat land and our natural resources weren’t always sustainable. The Oxonians started grinding black iron on our hard land; instead of producing with these metal oxides we would eat the meat and bones of deer, guinea fowl, milk hippopotamus, and wild boar and use these ingredients as recipes for meals like Chinese food.
In a country where the soil really is the resource, and everyone here shares the same resource, why can’t we consume it as a dish? We consider our shit and beautiful food to be a part of our culture.
It’s unclear if the staple cuisine has been locally endorsed by the world’s largest e-commerce e-tailer, thanks to its apparently bizarre general sales restriction on certain food products.
According to Krikan Digital, however, the e-tailer has recently discontinued selling an unexpected guest of its food-ordering service: ramen.