A Pricey Noodle Soup
At Fujimaki Gekijyo ("藤巻激城" ) which is in Nakameguro, Japan, there is only one item on the menu - a bowl of "Five-taste blended Imperial Noodles" at $111 dollars.
A bowl of Japanese noodle soup, or ramen as its called here in Tokyo, usually costs around 500 yen to 1,000 yen ($5.50 - $11 U.S. dollars). But at Shoichi Fujimaki's restaurant the iconic Japanese dish is being distanced from its roots as a staple of popular and cheap dining.
"If there's a tonne of them everywhere, of course the price will go down. Here is the only place in the world that people have this soup. I believe that this is indeed the number one noodle soup in the world," chef and noodle restaurant owner Fujimaki told Reuters in an interview as he started on the three day preparations on his broth.
Made from top-grade Chinese blended pork and beef soup stock, he adds Thai herbs to create a broth with a Tom Yum flavor. While the final product remains firmly a bowl of Japanese noodles in soup, Fujimaki says its more than that. "It's not really ramen.
This is my cuisine, it's my 25 years of experience distilled into one bowl," he explained. Fujimaki says originally he'd concocted a bowl of noodles at 3,000 yen ($33 U.S. dollars) but decided to push the envelope even further and see how far into the gourmet world he could take the dish.
To reserve a seat at his restaurant you need to become a member of his "club", which can only be done if you are a patron of another of Fujimaki's noodle establishments. "I personally love ramen and have been all over the country to try them as a hobby. But once you've tried one here once, it just feels like other ramen places are missing something," said 43-year old Keietsu Kasukawa after he finished a bowl of the noodle soup he described as 'a different experience each time'. No-one seems to have a problem with the price tag.
"Ten thousand yen is certainly expensive, as normal ramen shops sell ramen for a thousand yen or even less. However, I think that sometimes it's better to come here and spend ten thousand yen than to go to another place and spend a thousand yen ten times over," Tokyo resident Hideko Furusawa told Reuters, after she polished off what she described as a 'deliciously creamy soup broth."
Fujimaki says he plans to expand his business overseas around August of this year to the Los Angeles area, and while still undecided, he's promised the price will be less than $100 U.S. dollars in order to keep the Tokyo restaurant as the Mecca of noodle soup lovers.
Here it is