Fact: Tokyo has over 20,000 ramen restaurants currently operating. That means that if you were to sample one ramen restaurant in Tokyo, each day, it would take over 56 years to slurp your way through Tokyo’s ramen offerings. We actually did eat ramen every single day in Tokyo – and whilst I am in avid opposition to eating the same thing twice on consecutive days – there’s just too much deliciousness on this planet to restrict oneself to a single cuisine, let alone a single dish – I feel that the ramen in Tokyo is so varied that it is almost impossible to compare any two ramen that we devoured during our trip.
Afuri Ramen is unlike any ramen I have ever read about or tasted. A far-cry from the hearty ramen I was frequently exposed to, Afuri offers a curiously zesty take on Tokyo’s favourite noodle dish.
Afuri uses the vending machine ordering process – order at the vending machine whilst awkwardly trying to decipher what each button does, pay the machine and present the ticket to the guy behind the counter. Having done this, J ended up with a cold ramen dish, with dipping noodles and a side of charcoal pork. I, drawn like a moth to the light, pressed the button declaring ‘spicy’, not knowing what I was really in for.
Watching the Afuri staff meticulously prepare ramen is an amusing show of skill. They tweezer out bits of lemon zest , seaweed and other toppings with practiced precision. The noodles are flung expertly out of the boiling water and shaken with ruthless force to remove any remnants of water.
Soon, a large, steamy, bowl of zesty ramen arrived. It was spicy, but nothing that really required a spicy warning label in my books, however, I have undoubtedly nuked my tongue with spice so it may be too much for some to handle. My bowl of ramen contained a delicate, well-crafted broth, with hints of lemon, spice and sprinkled with sesame. The dish adjacent to me on the counter was a pleasingly cold, lemony ramen that would be impeccable ramen for a hot summer’s day. The noodles were cooked to textual perfection, offering the right amount of chew.
Passing by almost on a daily basis, I noticed that Afuri usually has quite the line congregating in front of its small frontage in Harajuku, and for good reason. It’s an entirely fresh take on ramen that I would highly recommend visiting if you’re in search of an entirely different ramen experience that will leave you questioning what ramen actually means.