Ramen Jiro: Tokyo's most controversial noodle

Ramen Jiro: Tokyo's most controversial noodle

A Japanese website asks the eternal question: What is the big deal about Ramen Jiro?
Ramen Jiro
If you you like bean sprouts and indigestion, you will love Ramen Jiro. (Photo by Flickr user kimishowota)

The popular website Alfalfa Mosaic drudged up a 2-ch post in which a user naively asked the eternal question, "How is Ramen Jiro? It just has boiled bamboo bean sprouts and meat on it, right?" A fellow 2-channeler immediately answered: "I already told you, Jiro is not ramen. Jiro is a just this thing you eat called 'jiro.'"

This pretty much sums up the controversy surrounding the Ramen Jiro chain of Tokyo-area noodle restaurants. The Guardian UK recently listed Jiro in its "50 best things to eat in the world" list -- a move that will only add fuel to the fire.

See, Jiro's noodles are as thick as udon, served with a pile of bean sprouts and chunky chashu on top -- garlic optional. The soup is an ultra-fatty pork base. This tinkering with the ramen formula is enough to make purists drop Jiro from official noodle canon. Non-purists are more troubled about the dish's infamous resistance to digestion.

CNNGo contributor and resident ramen expert Andrew Szymanski tells us, "Jiro is definitely an acquired taste. The soup is nothing like standard milky-white Kyushu-style tonkotsu, while the noodles, made from bread flour of all things, are thick and heavy. Still, there are enough devotees out there to make a trip worthwhile, and it's definitely something you'll never eat outside of Tokyo."

The more we write about Jiro, the more we appear to be daring you to try it. But every Tokyo resident is required by law to take sides in this culinary debate.

Jiro virgins should probably hit Jiro's original Mita location (Mita 2-16-4, Minato-ku, no tel., 9:30am-3pm), located right next to Keio University. Just make sure to scout out bathrooms in the general vicinity beforehand.