Shimokitazawa is a neighborhood in Japan, known as the “young and hip” fashion district located to the west of Tokyo. In 2017, a ramen shop called “Spice Ramen Ten To Sen” opened its doors in this neighborhood.
Spice Ramen - their signature item
Unlike traditional ramen, the toppings in this bowl were rather ornate. The traditional ingredients you find in a ramen bowl such as chashu, soft boiled egg, radish sprouts, and Japanese leeks were not present. Instead, this bowl was decadently topped with deep fried burdock root, wood ear mushroom, chives, red onions, paprika, cashew nuts, lemon, thinly sliced red peppers, and Chrysanthemum flower petals.
The fried burdock root was spectacular. The surface is crunchy and fragrant, the inside is also fried to the perfect texture, soft and fluffy.
The soup is a very traditional, using curry base. From the flavor, I assumed the spices used were cumin, basil, cilantro, red pepper.
The noodles are curly and of medium thickness, they soak up the soup and flavor really well.
So what is this soup curry anyway? Soup curry is a Japanese curry dish that started in Sapporo. It was inspired by the soupy curry from South India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, and from Chinese and Korean medicinal soups. Its defining characteristic is “a thin soup with lots of spices and ingredients cut into big pieces”.
This Spice Ramen, contains plenty of meat, which gives it the richness you find in traditional ramen. The ingredients which are cut into larger pieces include thick-cut chashu and large cut deep fried burdock root. The various spices and ingredients come together to bring complexity, fragrance, and new textures, which cannot be experienced in traditional ramen.
In Japan, it is quite common to see ramen hybrids that have evolved from incorporating other dishes. This Spice Ramen is one of the successful examples.