Since moving to New York several years ago, I have made it somewhat of a personal mission to patronize as many different ramen spots as financially feasible (video below).
But after learning about the Japanese ramen store Ooiwatei, I’m half-convinced that buying a plane ticket with the sole intent of tasting its star dish is a worthy expenditure — after all, Rocket News 24 reports that customers are commuting from all over Japan to try it.
Meet the unusual dish that recently made news on Japanese television: Ooiwatei’s “Mud-Based Ramen”, with a tonkotsu pork-based broth so thick and dark that a spoon can actually stand upright in it.
In America, a food tends to go viral based on either its aesthetic merit, or its astonishing excess: foodie Instagrams are saturated with rainbow consumables and towering milkshakes loaded with endless, sweet add-ons.
But it seems that the Mud-Based Ramen’s viral appeal stems not from its good looks, but from its flavor profile.
One twitter user, @yukki_yp, posted a picture of his spoon wedged in his viscous dish; as of June 8, the photo has been retweeted more that 20,400 times, and received almost 14,000 likes.
— ゆっきー (@yukki_yp) June 2, 2016
Ooiwatei offers a variety of ramen dishes to patrons, distinguished by different toppings such as seaweed, spring onion, and chashu braised pork. What unites them all, however, is the distinctive, miasmic tonkotsu soup base.
When I think of ramen, the sounds of slurping come to mind; in fact, chef and ramen-aficionado Teiichi Sakurai even gifted the world with a Slurping 101 video-tutorial about how to “properly” consume the dish.
While the Mud-Based Ramen is likely too thick to slurp traditionally, Rocket News 24 reports that its flavor is rich, dense, and delicious — a true crowd pleaser.
Check out the short clip below from Ooiwatei’s television appearance about how the dish is made: