Jirokei Ramen – Winning by Size
Jirokei Ramen, a genre of the Japanese ramen that many fans of noodles are addicted to. Many foreign visitors might have seen it and been intrigued by it without knowing its name or the fact that it is even in a type of ramen. So what is Jirokei Ramen about that makes it unique and impressive? Let’s explore it together.
Originated by the shop properly named Ramen Jiro (ラーメン二郎) back in 1968, their ramen stands out in the portions they serve. With a massive amount of noodles and cha-siu meat (which is referred to as 'buta' or pig in Japanese), the bowl of ramen will certainly satisfy you. This concept of the huge bowl of noodles has been adopted by other shops and became known as the Jirokei (Jiro-style) ramen. We can often see photos on the internet documenting ramen with a mountain of vegetables and meat on the bowl. Those are indeed examples of this ramen type.
Jirokei ramen uses one simple type of soup: broth made by cooking pork which is then mixed with a soy-sauce flavor seasoning and pork lard. Upon seeing the soup, you can definitely see a thick layer and perhaps chunks of the grease floating on top. The soup itself is rich in a salty flavor but light in texture.
The noodles are thick, and half-fatty-half-lean pork is often used for the meat. Some shops also stack up on the vegetables, which is low-cost and an effective way to increase the height of your ramen mountain. Chopped cabbage and bean sprouts fulfill that task but it doesn’t add much to the flavors.
What really adds flavor to the ramen is garlic, which is an essential ingredient to all Jirokei ramen. Chopped fresh garlic are placed and sometimes mixed into the soup upon serving, and you can guarantee to find jars of them on the counter so you can add more of the spicy goodness into the noodles. The garlic is also a vital reason why it is so addictive as well as why you should not eat this before going on a date.
So the burning question is, regardless of the volume, how delicious is Jirokei ramen? Well frankly as a ramen fan, the taste is average. As you have noticed, the focus of this genre of ramen isn’t so much the taste, but the amount. You might not be impressed by the flavours, but you most definitely will be full, satisfied, and smelling like lard and garlic.
Although Jirokei ramen is a presentation of ramen with a certain soup type, some other shops have borrowed this mountain-of-toppings concept with other soups. Both tsuke-men (dipping noodles) and mazesoba (mixing noodles) have also adopted this massive-volume style and are available at certain ramen shops. One shop may have started this trend, but it is expanding on its own into other ramen genres.
The huge-portioned Jirokei ramen is a popular and unique food experience many tourists challenge themselves to when visiting Japan. The shops might not seem appealing from the outside and the mountain of toppings is rather intimidating, but if you like ramen, find a day when you’re feeling hungry (and won’t mind the garlic breathe afterwards) and give this a try!