Big in Japan: The Most Perfect Bowl of Ramen

Today, ‘Big in Japan’ brings you an update on one noodle lover’s countrywide search for Japan’s most perfect bowl of ramen.

I love ramen.

For some, it’s the heady aroma and subtle flavor of wild mushrooms. For others, it’s the enticing sizzle and juicy goodness of a rack of lamb.

For me, it’s gotta be ramen – Nature’s most perfect food.

Since first coming to Japan several years ago, I have been engaged in a tireless quest to find the most perfect bowl of ramen. Like finely aged wine, matured cheese or sun-ripened fruit, good ramen must be appreciated, savored and at all times revered.

Of course, no two bowls of ramen are created equal. From the consistency and flavor of the broth to the texture and style of the noodles, clearly a bowl of ramen is greater than the sum of its parts. But fear not – though the road has been long, I may have finally found the perfect bowl of ramen.

Allow me to introduce you to the newfound subject of my affection, the spicy ramen bowl at Two Guy’s Ramen, a neighborhood landmark here in the Nakameguro ward of Tokyo.

To the untrained eye, the spicy ramen bowl at Two Guy’s Ramen looks like any other bowl of noodles you might come across here in Japan. With that said, let’s dissect the various elements that make this particular bowl of ramen such a superior snack.

For starters, let’s inspect the broth.

Note the rich hues resulting from the flawless blend of miso paste, soup stock and spicy sesame oil. Fix your eye on the perfectly chopped scallions floating effortlessly on the globules of rich, salty pork fat.

Next, check out the noodles.

Note the dense mass of curled egg noodles hiding beneath the toppings, waiting to be discovered by probing chopsticks. Fix your eyes on the perfect ratio of soup to noodles, which ensures balance and consistency in every slurp.

Finally, appreciate the chosen toppings.

Note the plumpness of the yellow kernels of corn, the translucent goodness of the bean sprouts and the zesty freshness of the spring onions. Admire the immaculate slice of slow-roasted pork, which hovers above the noodles with zen-like grace.

Although a picture speaks a thousand words, in this case I am at a loss to describe the medley of flavors that dart across your tongue with each slurp of this delectable dish. The richness of the miso mellows the burn of the spicy oil while the zest of the spring onions awakens the starches of the noodles.

With every bite, the stomach screams out for more while the head spins in a MSG-fueled orgy of delight…

Two Guy’s Ramen – I salute you. Although my quest for the most perfect bowl of ramen is far from over, the bar has been raised, and my hunger has been vanquished (at least for the time being).

For more on Nature’s most perfect of foods, check out An Ode to Ramen, a four-part series on the history and culture of this heaven-sent dish.

** This article is dedicated to Will-san, my long absent partner in crime. May our future hold within it more drunken afternoon trips to the Mecca that is Two Guy’s Ramen. **