Kyoto’s unique Fire Ramen experience
It is said that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals have had a decent grasp on controlling fire for hundreds of thousands of years, whilst some scientists go so far as to say we humans, or rather our ape like ancestor Homo Erectus, had mastered the flame up to a million years ago. Fire is in our DNA.
Ramen was invented in Japan in the early 20th century, and according to ramen expert and creator of Japan’s ‘Ramen Data Bank’ Hiroshi Osaki, the first ramen shop opened in Yokohama in 1910.
30 years ago, a father and son duo of the family name Miyazawa dreamed up something special. From that point on Menbakaichidai, and fire ramen, were born.
Menbakaichidai sits tucked away just to the north of Kyoto’s Nijo Castle, it seems like any other ramen restaurant at first glance, but looks can be deceiving. Menbakaichidai is where our primal mastery of fire is combined with century old ramen tradition to produce something truly spectacular.
Fire Ramen, according to Menbakaichidai, is officially called green onion ramen. The controlled mini inferno is created by setting alight a thin layer of secret recipe oil added just before serving – this isn’t just for show – the huge intense flame results in a unique charred flavour to the generous serving of pork and green onions, and brings their flavour out to the full.
So how is Menbakaichidai’s famous Fire Ramen made? Well, they won’t reveal all their secrets, but here’s the basic gist. They start with a base of their original soy sauce in the bowl, then they add a special blend of chicken, pork, and fish broth. This is followed by a generous serving of fresh made thin noodles. Succulent slices of pork are added on top, followed by a grand handful of green onions. And then, finally, the main event: burning oil is poured over the whole thing, and the restaurant fills with a burst of light, followed by the pleasant savory aroma of scorched ramen.
This pyrotechnic show is not for the faint of heart, and eyebrows have been known to be singed in the past, so proceed with caution. The restaurant actually has a few very strict rules you must adhere to if you wish to enter their dojo. The rules are:
- Fire Ramen shall be consumed at the counter seat.
- Guests without a Fire Ramen order shall be seated separately.
- Please order a bowl per person. Guests may not share a bowl.
- For safety, children under 110cm (3’7”) shall not order Fire Ramen. They may order and enjoy other meals at the table accompanied by adults.
- Don’t run away.
- Don’t scream.
- Don’t take off your apron until you are finished eating
As well as the aforementioned, guests are strongly urged to stay calm whilst the fire briefly rages, and getting up during the show is a massive no-no. Fire Ramen is a definite must try if you’re ever in Kyoto, and vegetarians rejoice – there’s a veggie broth option available.
Menbakaichidai pride themselves on serving a simple ramen, made with fresh high quality ingredients, and finished off with a show that both entertains, and ties in all the ingredients creating a truly unforgettable taste; and an experience that will last a lifetime.
757-2, Minamiiseyacho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto, 602-8153, Japan
Hours & Fees
Lunch: 11:30am-2:15pm Dinner: 6:00pm-11:00pm