As the cuisine of one country becomes popular inn others, sometimes it picks up new ingredients and variations of part of its journey around the globe. For example, spaghetti bolognese is incredibly popular in Japan, but so is pasta with mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

The fact that the latter isn’t something you’d ever find in an authentic Italian restaurant doesn’t make it any less delicious. So when our Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro spotted a restaurant in the Netherlands advertising ramen with one very unusual ingredient, he decided to give it a shot. Little did he know, though, that the surprises were just beginning.

Fresh off his assignment in Scheveningen, where he found out that the local pronunciation of the town’s name is not, in fact, exactly the same as the Japanese word for “perverts,” Yuichiro found himself back in the Hague. With his stomach growling, he happened across a restaurant with a sign reading SET genki-tei. The eatery’s homages to Japan didn’t stop at its Japanese-derived name (which loosely translates as “Happy House”) or random capitalization, either. Stepping inside, Yuichiro saw a Japanese-style interior and a menu featuring a wide range of culinary favorites such as sushi and tempura.

What really grabbed his attention, though, was the page of the menu with “beef soya ramen” splashed across it, and a picture showing the legumes sitting atop some noodles to boot.


Yes, soybeans, called edamame in Japanese, are commonly eaten in Japan. They’re usually a snack all by themselves, though, often enjoyed with a glass of cold beer. Among the many different things Japan likes to put in its ramen, we can’t recall ever seeing a restaurant, or a person, that puts soybeans in theirs, though. Figuring this might be his only chance ever to try the combination, Yuichiro ordered a bowl, despite its 8.9-Euro price (the equivalent of 1,200 yen) being pretty expensive compared to what ramen costs in Tokyo.

After putting in his order, Yuichiro let his imagination roam free as he imagined what the unusual dish would taste like. Before he could arrive at any well-developed theories, though, his server was bringing him his food. Checking his watch, our reporter noticed that not even three minutes had gone by, meaning his order had come to him in less time than it takes to make instant ramen in a styrofoam cup. In and of itself, speedy service is a good thing, but given the amazingly short turnaround time. Yuichiro couldn’t help but also feel just a little concerned.

However, it looked like a proper bowl of ramen, with nothing out of the ordinary of slipshod about its appearance. Grabbing his chopsticks, Yuichiro picked up a mouthful of noodles and slurped them in the orthodox eating style, finding them a touch soft, but not so much as to be called soggy or present any sort of unpleasantness.


Next, he grabbed his spoon and took a sip of the broth, and found it to be rather tasty. It was also surprisingly light compared to some oilier ramen broths, and after a second sip, Yuichiro figured out why: it actually wasn’t ramen broth at all! While there’s no way to be sure without sneaking into SET genki-tei’s kitchen, the telltale flavor of bonito stock made our man certain that the ramen noodles are actually floating in a bowl of broth traditionally meant for udon.

But still, it tasted pretty good! OK, now on to the toppings, which included strips of beef, seaweed…


…carrot, a hard-boiled egg, shiitake mushrooms…


…and plenty of corn. Yep, this is definitely a nice spread, and really helps to justify that 8.9-Euro price tag. Really, with so much variety, you can’t complain about the toppings here. Well, if we’re being picky, we suppose there is just one tiny little issue we have with the toppings of the beef soybean ramen.

There weren’t any soybeans!


Seriously, not a one. And come to think of it, Yuichiro didn’t recall seeing any corn in the photo of the dish on the menu.


Hmm…maybe that is corn in the photo, and the coloring is just strange, or the page is faded? But then, if that’s the case, why call it “beef soya ramen” and not “beef corn ramen?”

That said, we can’t stress enough that, even with unusual non-traditional broth and missing non-traditional topping, the meal tasted great. As a matter of fact, Yuichiro says it’s just the thing if you find yourself in Holland and hankering for some udon.

If you’re in the mood for ramen with soybeans, though, apparently there’s still no restaurant that makes that, whether in Japan or the rest of the world.

Restaurant information
SET genki-tei
Address: Schoolstraat 4, 2511 AX Den Haag, Netherlands
Open Noon-10:30 p.m.

Photos: RocketNews24
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