When you visit Japan, it’s basically mandatory to try authentic Japanese food. Ramen is one of so many popular Japanese dishes to try. Everything comes into perfection in a bowl of ramen: the savory soup combined with the springy texture of the noodle with various delicious toppings. It’s easy to fall in love with this dish.
I am a big fan of noodles and also a Muslim. It’s not hard for me to enjoy a big bowl of ramen back in my country, but it’s a whole lot different when I become a minority in Japan. I only have two options here: be happy with veggie ramen, or… not having it. At all. Knowing that my chances are low, I started to research an alternative for the sake of experiencing real Japanese ramen while visiting the country of Detective Conan.
The boom of Muslim-friendly services in Japan, such as prayer rooms and halal food, was the first remark of my search. After researching several forums and blogs, I decided to choose a seafood ramen shop in Shinjuku, Tokyo, named Menya Kaijin. With all the information I had gathered, I and a group of friends went down to Shinjuku Station then took the South Exit onto the jumble of shops and entertainment distractions. I must say that it was not that easy to find the shop among the dense of pachinko parlors, clothing stores, food shops, and the busy thoroughfares, although finally, we spotted the small sign with “Menya Kaijin” in Japanese letters on the small stories building just around the corner. The next thing we did was we queue up the stairs for about 20 minutes in order to get into the shop.
After 20 minutes, we got our table with five seats. We ordered four servings of Spicy Seafood Ramen and one serving of Seafood Ramen with an extra boiled egg. If you happen to visit this place, I warn you to be very sure of your decision if the waiter asks if you wish to upsize your order. Because at that moment I agreed to upsize mine—at no additional cost—before realizing, in shock, it wasn’t only bigger but it was humongous so!
My friend said you only live once before I replied: “I probably only have one chance to eat real ramen in Japan”. So I decided to take my chopsticks and shouted “Itadakimasu!”.
Now let me tell you about the taste. The soup had a more savory flavor than other Japanese soups. I sensed nothing unusual by how it appeared, but when I took a bite of the shrimp and fish meatballs, I was so stunned. It was extraordinary. So tasty and juicy, with a spark of sweetness at the end of the journey. Although the soup was thicker, the taste was so much lighter on the tastebud. Feel free to add more toppings such as heshikoyaki (baked onigiri with mackerel filling), shrimp meatballs, chicken meatballs, or boiled egg. Everything was served with such a glorious taste. No worries for vegetarians who still eat seafood or white meat.
Menya Kaijin’s prices start from ¥830 through ¥1,030 per serving. The spicy ramen has three levels of spiciness. For one serving of normal-sized ramen, it is about 140 grams and 210 grams for the big one. Customers can get free water with unlimited refills.