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When dining out in Japan, there is a commonly accepted truism that you get the tastiest example of a particular type of food by eating it in a restaurant that specializes in it. For example, if you want good ramen, you go to a place that serves that and little, if anything, else.

Speaking of Japan’s favorite noodle dish, popular wisdom also holds that the dingier the ramen restaurant, the better-tasting the food.

So imagine our surprise when we discovered that the Yona Yona Beer Kitchen, a classy restaurant with a full menu in Tokyo’s swanky Nagata-cho neighborhood, can also whip up a bowl of ramen that’s as delicious as it is visually striking.

The photos in this article can be viewed in 3D. The MPO (3D data) zip files can be downloaded here for viewing on a Nintendo 3DS or 3D-capable TV or PC.

True to its name, customers at the Yona Yona Beer Kitchen can enjoy Yona Yona Ale, an American-style pale ale brewed in Nagano Prefecture. Over a dozen varieties from Yona Yona’s brewer are available, including a rotating selection of seasonal brews.

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The bilingual menu is divided into sections such as “awesome meat” and “luscious salad.” What caught our eyes was the first listing under “yummy yummy carbo”: tsukimi ramen.

Literally meaning “moon-viewing ramen,” tsukimi ramen’s distinguishing characteristic is the raw egg poured onto the noodles, which resembles a full moon before the heat of the broth cooks it. There’s been a noticeable chill in the air the past few nights, and this sounded like just the thing to warm us up.

But while tsukimi ramen itself is pretty common, the contents of the bowl our waiter set down in front of us was unlike any we’d had before.

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Sitting in a pond of pitch black broth was a vibrantly-hued egg yolk. After we recovered from our initial shock, we realized something: the ramen was a dead-ringer for the Yona Yona Ale logo.

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The inky color comes from the generous amount of ma-yu, a garlic infused sesame oil, added to Yona Yona Beer Kitchen’s broth. We didn’t need to taste it to know, either, as the pungent condiment wasted no time in alerting our olfactory senses to its presence.

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Surprisingly, before the oil is added, the broth is white in color, though it wasn’t until we dipped our spoon into the bowl that we could see the less shockingly colored layer below.

But we came to eat, not wax romantic about evocative aesthetics and the night skies! We picked up a mouthful of noodles with our chopsticks, noticing their palpable weight. As we raised the noodles to our lips, the dark broth shifted with them, giving us a vision of the tides of the midnight sea being pulled by the moon.

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To our surprise, despite the ramen’s over-the-top appearance, its flavor wasn’t anywhere near overbearing, having neither an excess of salt nor oil. Even better, as we grabbed more noodles and stirred the bowl’s contents in the process, the tantalizing aroma radiating from the broth came to us anew.

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Wrapped in this wonderful aroma, the enchanting fragrance seemed to be soaking into our very souls, and it amplified the delicious wheat notes of the noodles with each additional bite.

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The ratio of ramen noodles to broth at most restaurants in Japan is such that you run out of the former long before the latter, but Yona Yona Beer Kitchen’s proportion ensures that you can enjoy both together right up until the very end.

Before we knew it, we were staring at the bottom of the bowl. To our eyes it looked just a little like a misty morning sky right before daybreak, giving the memory of our bowl of moon-viewing ramen just a bit of a bittersweet aftertaste to mingle with the garlic on our taste buds.

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Restaurant information:
Yona Yona Beer Kitchen / よなよなビアキッチン
Address: Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Nagata-cho 2-14-3, Akasaka Plaza 2nd Floor
東京都千代田区永田町2-14-3 赤坂東急プラザ2F
Hours of operation: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. (usually)

Top image: RocketNews24
Insert images: RocketNews24, Yona Yona Beer Kitchen, Eastern Craft
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