Enjoy tomato or volcano ramen in Chatan
The classic ramen experience is still one of my favorite parts of Japanese cuisine. Okinawa has no shortage of good ramen, so what makes this place worthy of note? In short, their fearless willingness to experiment with one of the most revered staples of Japan.
Entering the dark restaurant, just a stones throw from the American village parking lot, my expectations weren’t all that high. I put my money into the vending machine inside the entryway and prepared myself for another delicious yet predictable bowl of noodles. Scanning the usual offerings I noticed more than a couple strange named dishes.
Volcano ramen? Sounds good to me. It was ¥1000, kind of pricy for ramen but I had a feeling it would be worth it. It was. It was amazing! It wasn’t the least bit like any bowl of ramen I’ve ever had.
The soup was tomato and miso base. It was served separate from the noodles giving me full control of the soup to noodle ratio. The bamboo shoots, egg, green onions, and other ingredients were arranged pleasantly on the tray, beside the noodles. Among the usual suspects was a small dish of parmesan cheese.
The volcano name is fitting for at least two reasons. One, when the red soup was poured into the stone pot containing the noodles it bubbles and sizzles like lava. Two, the soup is spicy. I opted for level two spiciness on a scale of 1 to 4. It was perfect.
Too many ramen joints err on the side of caution. They stick close to traditional recipes afraid to fix something that isn’t broken. It was refreshing to see some courage from the kitchen, and to experience something entirely new.