NOTE TO BLOG VISITORS - I am not currently doing noodle restaurant visit reports, but focusing on diving more deeply into noodle research, so this blog will be updated less frequently. For the latest Asian noodle news, and features from external sources, follow

Friday, December 2, 2016

Is Ramen the Mercedes-Benz of Asian Noodle Soups?

The Ramen of Mecedes-Benz (RocketNews24 photo)

According to the online journal RocketNews24, Mercedes-Benz is selling ramen in Tokyo, at a cafe attached to their Roppongi showroom.  They feature both surf ("Umi") and turf ("Riku") versions.

$18 Tori Paitan Ramen
I stumbled across this bit of culinary knowledge shortly after a review of San Francisco ramen-ya Nojo Ramen Tavern in the Hungry Onion food discussion forum indicated that a Tori Paitan Shoyu Ramen there cost $18. Although Nojo Tavern's chicken ramen bowl contained a whole chicken leg, which is more protein than one can reasonably expect in a bowl of ramen, some forum participants (including me) found this a startling price. Steep as it is, though, this pricing is not to be totally unexpected; another forum participant found another $18 chicken ramen in town, and in another instance, a local hipster entrepreneur (who shall remain nameless) was so enamored by his own chicken ramen creation that he attempted to get $28 for it.  His business was short-lived.

$6.99 Michelin-starred Ramen
My views on ramen are well known to regular readers of this blog (in short, I consider it one of the less noble forms of Asian noodle soups), but even leaving out qualitative considerations, I consider ramen to be overpriced in general.  For a hearty bowl of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or Korean noodle soup, a sticker price of less than $10 is still the rule rather than the exception, whereas it's nearly impossible to find a bowl of ramen in the single-digit range, and most menus start at least a couple of bucks north of an Alexander Hamilton. And when branding kicks in, people will wait in long queues fo the privilege of paying a Mercedez-Benz price for what the Japanese consider a Daihatsu food. (Tokyo ramen shop Nakiryu was recently awarded a Michelin star; the bite for a bowl of its signature Dandan noodles is US $6.99.)

So much for Mercedes-priced ramen; as far as Mercedes-Benz's own Tokyo ramen goes, that'll be US $10.60 for either the Umi (with scallops) or the Riku (with duck "ham") ramen.

Tori paitan ramen photo by Hungry Onion poster "Mr_Happy." Others by RocketNews24

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