Kyoto itself is a foodie haven. There is no lack of good ramen and Japanese restaurants there. You can easily walk into any Japanese restaurant or eatery to enjoy a decent meal. But if you are up for a unique foodie experience which combines food with some entertainment, then you might want to check our Menbaka Fire Ramen.
Despite the numerous reviews that talked about their declining food standards, people are still walking into this ramen stall to enjoy a piping hot bowl of fire ramen. We even have to wait for quite a while before we could get a seat.
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So, why are there still people queuing for Fire ramen?
If you think about it, where else can you get such an experience? Besides, wouldn’t you be curious as to how fire ramen would taste like? Or maybe you’re not here for the ramen but for the experience of having fire blasted right in front of you. But like what other online reviewers commented, coming here once for the experience is good enough. There’s nothing to rave about when it comes to the taste of the fire ramen.
Do you have to make reservations?
Unfortunately, they don’t accept reservations. You have dropped by to get a queue number. Depending on the crowd, you might have to wait for about 30 minutes or so. I guess we were lucky as we only waited for about 15 minutes before we were let in.
They usually have about 2 concurrent seatings. Once the first group of diners have got their ramen flamed, they will usher in the second group of diners. While the first group of diners were gulping down the ramen, the staff took this time to take the orders from the second group of diners. That’s their economical way of maximising time. It’s fantastic.
What to order?
Once you enter the restaurant, you have to order a bowl of fire ramen for yourself. They do not allow sharing. And their version of fire ramen is not spicy ramen noodles but it is simply just flamed green onion ramen. They offer set meals which include a bowl of fire ramen as well as a side dish. Each bowl of fire ramen works out to be about SGD 16.50. Considering that the ramen only comprises of green spring onions, noodles, soup and two thin slices of pork, it can be considered to be somewhat overpriced. The portion is quite big so we only ordered a bowl of fire ramen.
The other side dishes look average. Our neighbouring diners could hardly finish the sides dishes they ordered. It’s either they were too full or the dish tasted average.
If you’re interested, you may even purchase some of their merchandise like their ‘No ramen, no life’ badges or T-shirts.
Menbaka Fire Ramen Menu
Why do they have to flame the ramen?
According to them, the flaming oil helps to release the full flavour of green spring onions that garnished the bowl of fire ramen.
What to take note of during your flaming ramen experience?
There are some strict rules to observe here to keep yourself safe. Do not whip out your phone or camera as your bowl of ramen is being flamed right in front of you. That explains why I did not manage to take many photos of the place. During the process, you must also stay seated. Since the bowl is covered with oil, do not touch the bowl. Put on the disposable aprons which would be handed out to you. The apron will prevent your clothes from getting splattered with oil.
Once you’ve got yourself acquainted with all the rules, it’s time to get ready for this YOLO experience. Their staff are very experienced in what they are doing. They could actually cook a bowl of ramen in minutes! While preparing your bowl of ramen, they would also ask if you would like them to take a video of you during the flaming process. They have several mobile holders where they can fix your phone to it so that you can film yourself during the experience.
My bowl of Fire Ramen
Before the chef starts to lit each bowl of ramen with the flames, he asked us to put our hands behind our backs. He would lit each bowl with fire, one after another and all you have to do is just to sit still. To be honest, I was so afraid. I actually sat a little further away from the table. Since I was also wearing contacts, I was half-afraid that my contact lens will melt under the intense heat. So I closed my eyes and turn my head away as the chef lit my bowl of ramen. I bet he could tell that I was so afraid! I could feel the intense heat that quickly warms my body. But the heat dissipated quickly after the fire was extinguished. What’s left is a bowl of fire ramen that seems untouched.
The ramen only consisted of mainly green spring onions, soup(Shoyu), noodles and two morsels of pork meat which tasted average. I wish there had added more substantial ingredients in it. To me, it is somewhat too basic to be even called a bowl of ramen. You can also customise your bowl of ramen if you are a vegetarian. For Muslims, you can also request for a bowl of ramen without pork.
Fire ramen is still pretty popular.
Nonetheless, it was still quite an experience on its own even though the food was quite a letdown. After we finished our ramen, we foot the bill and left. As we made our way to the exit, we saw that there were still a group of people waiting outside despite the cold weather. Looks like everyone is still curious to find out what this fire ramen experience is all about.