Aji WOW: tomato ramen
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: tomato ramen from Makkana Ramen Tomako.
Makkana - 'bright red' - Ramen Tomako is a fairly small chain. They have a lot of different, interesting types of ramen. Like tomato, and tomato curry, and tomato mustard, and tomato with cheese.
The many kinds of red ramen are sometimes joined by special seasonal ones. In the pic above, you can see they've also got a yuzu salt chicken ramen.
I went for the standard tomato version as an intro. It was my first visit, and I didn't want to be too ambitious. That, and I wasn't well prepared. Should've worn a darker-coloured jumper. Tomako does happily hand out paper aprons and hairbands for free.
Adding more coriander to your meal is actively encouraged. Get as many leafy greens and veggies into your ramen as possible. This coriander's available 'until it runs out'.
Ramen isn't a healthy choice - too much salt, oil, and processed noodles. Kotteri ramen can account for around 1,000 calories in a sitting. Not the kind of thing I care too much about when doing reviews.
On to the main point of this dish. Is tomato ramen actually 'a thing', or is it a kind of spaghetti with too much water in it?
This photo may or may not help you decide. The serving is generous, the bowl is massive:
It's hard to tell, even as you eat.
The tomato sauce is like soup, and it needs to be thicker. (The oil around the outside of the bowl didn't mix with the water.) It took a couple of dips to coat the noodles in enough sauce.
On to the toppings. The sliced onion, spring onion, coriander, and beansprouts on top were all chewy. I'm also assuming there was a tiny amount of cheese mixed in. That, or the beansprouts were extra stringy.
A way of avoiding some of ramen's many calories is to leave most of the soup. But I ate this on a cold day, and it was more or less tomato soup. So I drank it. For the soul.
The tomato benefits from being sampled without noodles, weirdly enough. The watery consistency doesn't go well with ramen, but the flavour itself is still strong. You can taste that Tomako uses real tomatoes.
If I'd just bought a cup of this as soup from a street stand, I would've been pretty happy with it. The plan is definitely to try the tomato curry ramen sometimes, in the hope that it's better.
Verdict: 7/10. It's good, but if I wanted watery spaghetti I'd eat it in the shower.