One of Japan's most recognizable foods is ramen. But, just saying ramen isn't enough - there are many different varieties of ramen all across Japan. Recently (March 2016) visitors to Japan have discovered tonkotsu ramen, with its comparatively thick, rich soup, but now we'd like to introduce you to a milder, more refreshing type of ramen. Made using the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, AFURI's refreshing yuzu salt ramen is a taste not to be missed.
Yuzu Salt Ramen at AFURI
In order to keep the flavor of the soup uniform, the base is made in a central kitchen found in Nanasawa, Atsugi, Kanagawa. The soup is made with natural spring water from Mount Afuri, domestically sourced chicken, seafood and potherb, and is allowed to cook slowly, really letting the flavors come through. Nothing is left to chance; the climate, level of humidity, fire strength and timing are monitored down to the minutest point, thereby ensuring that the flavor of each batch of the soup is as good as the last.
We visited AFURI in Shibuya ward's Ebisu. Ebisu station is famous for its numerous fashionable restaurants and the popular cinema at Ebisu Garden Place. AFURI is a three-minute walk from Ebisu station's west exit, and is quite easy to find.
First, you need to buy your meal ticket at the machine. If you're feeling a little lost looking at all the buttons, there is an English menu with explanations that you can use for reference.
An Addictive Soup - Gentle Yuzu and Chicken Flavors
Here's the shops signature dish "yuzu salt rāmen" (980 yen). As the dish is brought over to you, it's the fragrant scent of the "chi-yu" (*1) that really whets your appetite.
*1 Chi-yu: chicken skin that has been cooked down into an oil.
The gentle taste of the salt-based soup is surprisingly deeply flavored; you'll find yourself unable to stop eating it, it's that good. The fine quality oil from the chicken is thoroughly infused with the flavors of the potherb; AFURI's original chi-yu has a mellow body, making it the perfect addition to the ramen. While some visitors from overseas might not be as concerned with the quality or texture of the noodles, or the flavor of the soup, there are those who can't get enough of it. But, mouthful by mouthful, everyone will come to understand the subtleties of this soup's flavoring.
The thin noodles are made from a blend of rye and whole wheat flower from Hokkaido, making them quite healthy and a perfect match to the flavorful soup. And, for an extra 180 yen, it's possible to change the noodles to "temomi-men" (wavy, fluffy noodles), or for 200 yen extra, "konnyaku noodles", low calorie noodles made with dietary fiber and konnyaku jelly.
They're also concerned with the quality of their toppings. And, when it comes to toppings, look no further than their delicious, fragrant grilled chashu (*2), soft-boiled eggs, crunchy menma (*3), and roasted seaweed from Awaji Island. The flavors of which, when added to the ramen, make for an even more enjoyable meal.
With a richly flavored soup, toppings are always an afterthought, but in this case, the toppings make a perfect companion to both the broth and noodles. This is a combination you have to try.
*2 Chashu: seasoned & roasted pork slices; also called "nibuta".
*3 Menma: bamboo shoots preserved with salt and soy sauce; they have a slightly chewy texture.
Full of Vegetables - Seasonal Veg Vegan Ramen
Here is AFURI's Seasonal vegetable vegan ramen
(1350), introduced in October of 2014. With vegetables freshly harvested in Kamakura city, this ramen is perfect for vegetarians and for those concerned with their health. The noodles are made from powdered lotus root and flour, without using any eggs. From the noodles to the soup and toppings, in this dish there are zero animal products. The soup broth is full of the sweet goodness of vegetables and salt. The soup, noodles, and fresh vegetable toppings all combine together to make a very filling dish. Thanks to the combination of the richly flavored yet light soup, AFURI has also found quite the following among women.
This restaurant is not only recommended for ramen fans, but also for health-conscious people and people who like milder flavors. When you're in Japan, AFURI is a shop not to be missed!