Every day I cycle to school past a sole ramen store on a restaurant-sparse stretch of road. Every day, I glance up at the yellow sign and think “I must try that one day.”
That store is called Senrigan (千里眼 – ‘clairvoyance’) and on Friday I finally tried it. With serious consequences.
On that fateful day, I found myself cycling past it at 8.45am where about 8 people were queuing outside. There’s something going on, I thought, and I wanna be part of it.
Fast forward to 1.30pm and I’m standing in the world’s longest queue.
And I’m not even sure why.
The guy in front explains that it’s their 5th anniversary and they’re doing steak ramen. I was sold. Steak PLUS ramen? How could this not be delicious fun?
My friend and I joined the ‘two hour’ queue and waited. And waited. One tea, one coffee, a few disposable hand warmers, and THREE AND A HALF HOURS later, we were inside. 980 yen went in the machine, Big Steak Ramen picture was pressed, and preparatory breath fresheners were pocketed.
Apparently they specialise in garlic…
As the big size was free, we naturally said YES PLEASE and I also paid an extra 100 yen for a soft-boiled egg. Because… Well, because I like eggs and I’m greedy. Also, when they ask about toppings, if you want to try them all, make sure you say ‘zenbu de’ (with everything) or you’ll end up spying things and asking them to add them piecemeal.
We settled down at two of the only twelve counter seats. Given the constant stream of customers, the staff were amazingly cheerful and relaxed, prepping ramen with the naturalness and ease of experts, and happily presenting customers with their orders.
We were then presented with this magnificent bowl!
It turns out we could get up to FOUR different kinds of garlic: crushed raw garlic, fried garlic, garlic mayonnaise, and pink pickled garlic.
There were also some crispy fried batter, which added more texture than flavour, despite their spicy colour.
It was so beautiful…
Like, SO BEAUTIFUL!
But like all beautiful temptresses of legends, or the Christian Grays and Edward Cullens of modern times, with great beauty comes great danger… Also, after eating this, I guarantee that romance goes out the window.
It was simply incapacitating. The sirloin steak was beautiful – succulent meat with a beautiful beef flavour. As for the rest? A garlicky, salty lethally heavy concoction. This style of ramen is known as jiro kei (Jiro-style) after the store that originally popularised this style. Most of the bowl was just noodles – which were actually excellent, closer to tsukemen noodles in their thickness and slightly chewy texture – but there was very little broth. What broth there was was extremely salty – a pork and soy sauce mix. A mysterious sieved sauce (it’s great to watch them prep it), a darker sauce and garlic mayonnaise were added on top and necessary to give the noodles flavour. But they also made it stomach-churningly rich. I speak as a big eater, a voracious eater, an experimental eater. But there was no way my stomach could hack this dish, and my friend and I felt very guilty at not being able to finish it.
In fact, when I say this dish is incapacitating I actually mean the following: you will be unable to talk, walk or generally live your life for the next few hours. With effort, you might be able to lace your shoes and shuffle around the streets in something which might resemble “walking off dinner”, despite the fact it’s now 9.30pm and you finished eating well over 4 hours ago. I am not the only one as this Ramen Adventures review attests: “I should also note that after every bowl of this sort, this one included, my stomach felt like I had made a mistake within an hour.” IT IS TRUE, I TELL YE!
Do you want to do this? Really? REALLY? Does a sirloin steak at 980 yen seem too good to turn down? Well, hurry! 10am – 5pm tomorrow (Sunday, March 1st) is the last day for the special steak ramen. Be prepared to queue but you will be rewarded with a free toppings voucher should you wish to return. I’ve got mine, so expect an update on their normal menu… on a day when I decide not to eat breakfast or dinner…
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Where: 東京都目黒区駒場4-6-8 佐藤ビル1F / Sato Bldg. 1F, 4-6-8 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
When: Mon to Sat, 11:00-14:30、17:00-21:45(L.O.); Sun 11:00-14:30、17:00-20:45(L.O.)
Transport: Ikenoue station (Keio Inokashira line), Higashikitazawa station (Odawara line)