You talkin’ ramen to me? You talkin’ ramen to me?
The ramen game in Japan is a hard one to get into. With the vast range of restaurants out there, it really takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. One way is with a catchy, memorable name, and you don’t get much more memorable than a name like “Ramen Deniro,” but this newly opened restaurant in Tokyo doesn’t stop there.
And since it’s only a five-minute walk from Shinjuku Station our well-traveled restaurant reporter Mr. Sato decided to check it out.
▼ Ramen Deniro
It was a lot snazzier-looking than other ramen restaurants – perhaps playing on the Hollywood image of its name – but it’s operated in the same style in which food order tickets are bought from a machine outside prior to entering. This place had already been open for about a week but was still getting a huge number of customers so Mr. Sato had to wait in line for about 10 minutes after buying his tickets.
Ramen Deniro is known for its tantanmen style ramen so our reporter ordered a bowl of Pa-koh D Tantanmen for 1,380 yen (US$9.55) along with a bowl of Lard Rice for 780 yen ($5.40) and a Nama Pudding Ice Cream for dessert that cost 380 yen ($2.63). When he got to his seat he was served a glass of aojiru, much to his surprise.
Aojiru is a kale-based vegetable drink that is famous both for its health benefits and less-than-stellar taste – which you probably already imagined after reading “kale-based vegetable drink.” However, Mr. Sato was told that it makes for an excellent palate cleanser and that drinking it after eating his meal feels very refreshing.
Next came the Lard Rice, which as its name suggests, is rice mixed with seasoned lard for a richer taste. Ramen Deniro took it to another level and also loaded it with so many toppings that the bowl seemed to be overflowing.
Then his Pa-koh D Tantanmen arrived and looked even wilder.
The “Pa-koh” refers to “pork ribs” which this tantanmen is generously topped with, along with big twigs of fried noodles that sprung out from the bowl like an enchanted forest.
Our reporter wasn’t quite sure how to tackle this thing, but he decided to sample the broth first. It’s possible to choose the level of spiciness and Mr. Sato settled on “slightly spicy” which still had a distinct burn but wasn’t overwhelming. It balanced well with the sesame paste and should be alright for those who normally can’t handle spicy food.
The noodles were fairly thick and tender. They were also slightly spiral-shaped, allowing them to pick up more of the broth with each bite.
The pork ribs were fried and had a crispy texture that complemented the soup nicely.
And the fried noodles added even more complexity to the texture. The parts sticking out of the soup retained a very crunchy feel while the submerged parts gradually grew softer. Mr. Sato could even adjust this balance by pushing these noodles into the broth to soften them up more.
Back to the Lard Rice, the chunk of stewed pork belly on top was so tender that our reporter could cut through it with his chopsticks. That, combined with the lard mixed into the rice, made it quite greasy but the addition of pickles helped to cut through all that and bring balance to this side dish.
Last but not least, dessert arrived in the form of the Nama Pudding Ice Cream. Mr. Sato wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but it certainly wasn’t just a foil cup with a stick coming out the top.
The way to eat it is to first hold the cup in your hand like so…
The warmth from your hand causes the outer surface of the frozen snack to melt just enough so the whole thing slides out of the cup smoothly.
Mr. Sato was pleasantly surprised by the appearance, which looked just like the “purin” style of custard pudding that’s popular in Japan, right down to the pool of caramel sauce at the bottom of the cup!
This definitely wasn’t normal purin, but it captured the taste of purin very well and had a hint of cream cheese flavor too, making it the perfect cap to an excellent meal.
When talking about the vast number of ramen restaurants around Japan, you’ll rarely hear people say “they have a great dessert,” but Ramen Deniro does have a great dessert and much more. So check it out whenever you’re in Tokyo and before a certain Academy-Award-winning actor’s lawyers find out about it.
Ramen Deniro / ラーメンデニーロ
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-32-5 GS Haim Shinjuku Minamiguchi 1F
東京都渋谷区千駄ヶ谷5-32-5 GSハイム新宿南口 1F
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Opens at 11:15 a.m. on holidays and weekends)
Open seven days a week
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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