“Hell hath no heat like that of which lies in a bowl of Noodles Shop Wataru’s ramen”
For starters let’s be honest, Japan has thousands of ramen shops…
No, literally thousands.
And for the most part I think we can agree that they’re all “yummy” in their own way… I mean, there are some pretty classy and quality joints out there as well as some roach infested crappy ones, but overall they all have their own charm.
Whether you’re grabbing a quick slurp on your well deserved lunch break, or putting the early morning munchies to rest after an evening of heavy drinking, camaraderie, and mischief, anyone who TRULY loves ramen knows that it’s pretty hard to f$%& up noodles, pork, and soup base (whether that base be salt, miso, tonkotsu, or the spectrum) and that for the most part they’re ALL fairly good.
I suppose for the majority of us ramen fanatics residing in the Far East, it generally doesn’t matter where we snag a bowl. After the last drop is sipped we kind of just end up taking it for what it. It’s always good to hear about the next new poppin’ ramen spot a few wards over, but a few months after the hype dies down we generally end up stumbling back into “Ye old faithful” to feed our comparable junkie like cravings and usually stumble out just as satisfied as we did after our first experience there.
So, why write a segment on the re-vamp and re-opening of a ramen shop?
They’re all pretty much the same right?
Well yes… And no…
Ramen is as staple to me here in Japan as Hotdogs are to me in America, so when asked to swing by Akihabara’s Noodle Shop Wataru, I guess I initially didn’t expect anything too special to come out of it. Per usual I figured I’d get a ton of broth, a few bean sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onion, maybe some bamboo shoots (If I was lucky) and the rest of the works all piled on top of a decent fill of noodles and a few slices of seared pork (don’t forget the seasoned egg).
And for the most part I did…
But an offering of 3 behemoth scoops of sun dried Habanero chilli peppers finely ground into an almost unbearable powder is something I ultimately did not expect.
So of course, I giddily went for it!
Yes indeed my friends, Noodles Shop Wataru isn’t just your run of the mill ramen shop, and it definitely isn’t an institution for those with a weak tongue and anything less than an iron stomach. The offerings here get hot! EXTREMELY HOT! Lip numbingly hot! Eye wateringly hot! HOT! HOT! HOT!… And although they do offer standard bowls of ramen without any hot sweat inducing additives, I beg to ask “What fun is there in that”.
Noodles Shop Wataru offers a delicious bowl of standard miso or salt base ramen with all of the classic helpings and add-ons as well as some amazing sides. But its charm lies in the challenge of having the option to order anywhere between 1 to 5 heavy spoonfuls of Habanero chilli powder well blended into your soup base and topped with the laughs, looks, and interests from the nearby kitchen staff.
The ordering process is subject to a membership card system which makes the dining experience all the more fun. Once you’ve conquered one bowl with one scoop of Habanero chilli powder, you’re then allowed to upgrade to 2 scoops, and then on to 3 scoops, and so on and so forth. I personally took on the challenge of 3 scoops to earn my stripes (and paid for it in ways you can hardly imagine) but enjoyed a great experience, a truthfully flavorful bowl of ramen, and an unforgettable good time.
The joy is truly in the challenge, that as well as the extremely friendly and helpful staff gives you an excuse to want to come back time and time again. I’d highly recommend Noodles Shop Wataru for any individual ramen lover, or general group of friends simply seeking an interesting and exciting dining experience Around Akiba (see what I just did there) but urge those with even the most gutsy of guts to take heed of the posted warnings around the shop when ordering….
Because you can always add more chili pepper, but there’s NO way to un-add chili peppers.
Keep those water glasses handy and good luck!
Adonis I. Saverson