SoraNews24 goes face-to-face with fanged fish as food.

As big ramen fans, the SoraNews24 crew has consumed its fair share of soy, miso, and tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen. But one thing we hadn’t eaten, until just now, was piranha ramen.

Actually, no one had eaten piranha ramen, because it didn’t exist. Back in the spring, Tokyo-based event organizers Holiday Jack’s April Fools’ Day joke was an announcement that they’d be serving piranha ramen, and when the response it got wasn’t just laughs but also a lot of people saying they’d seriously like to try it, Holiday Jack decided to make piranha ramen a reality.

So we sent our reporter P.K. Sanjun off to Tokyo’s Holiday Jack-managed Ninja Cafe & Bar Asakusa to try this intimidating innovation for himself.

As soon as P.K. arrived, he was greeted by the site of the star ingredient. Looking at the carnivorous Amazonian fish, P.K. was startled by how large they were and how sharp their teeth looked, and was glad to be on dry land, where we humans have the advantage.

While preparing P.K.’s meal, the chef explained that it was actually quite difficult to develop piranha ramen. At first, they tried simply boiling the fish to create the stock for the broth, but this created “A broth which couldn’t be described as edible,” So instead, the piranha is first salted and sun-dried then boiled with lemon, a process which improves the flavor dramatically.

P.K.’s piranha ramen would also be topped with a whole deep-fried piranha. Though you can opt for a bowl of ramen with the piranha broth but not the fish itself, P.K. figures with piranha ramen you should either be all in or all out, and he was all in. So once the fish was cooked, the chef placed it atop the bowl of broth and noodles, and placed the bowl in front of P.K.

Amazingly, deep-frying the piranha made its visage even more terrifying.

“I’m…I’m still gonna eat you!” P.K. declared, lest the fried lose respect for him for showing fear. However, ramen-tasting etiquette dictates starting with the broth, so P.K. took a sip

…and was surprised to find it had a crisp, clean finish, with none of the muddy, gamey flavor he’d been braced for because of piranha being a freshwater fish. The extra seasonings of sliced green onions, ginger, and lemon zest even made the whole thing pretty classy.

Moving on to the fish itself, P.K. was once again surprised at the lack of gaminess in the meat-eating piranha’s meat. “This isn’t bad,” he thought. “It’s a straightforward whitefish.”

P.K. points out, though, that the ratio of bones to meat is pretty high, so you’ll need to carefully pick them out with your chopsticks, and while piranha ramen is a super unique meal, it’s not an incredibly filling one.

Aside from the fear factor, there’s one other hurdle to clear with piranha ramen, which is the price. The piranha-topped piranha ramen, like P.K. ate, costs 5,500 yen (US$51), and even without the topping it’ll still set you back 3,000 yen. While there’s probably a bit of price inelasticity at play here (a lot of people who don’t want to eat a piranha probably aren’t going to be convinced to try it just because it becomes cheaper), but the chef also told P.K. that sourcing the ingredients is incredibly costly. First the fish had to be caught, processed, and frozen in Brazil, then shipped to Japan via the U.S., with inspections at every border, making for a supply chain that’s not only long but expensive too.

Because of that, piranha ramen is a limited-time offer, with only 1,000 bowls to be served between September 20 and 23 (100 on the first day, and 300 a day after that). Advance tickets are required (and can be purchased here through Yahoo! Japan), so act quick, though if you miss your chance, you can always console yourself with a bowl of Tokyo’s poisonous blowfish ramen, which is available year-round.

Restaurant information
Ninja Cafe & Bar Asakusa
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Nishi Asakusa 3-27-14
Piranha Ramen times: 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. (Sept 20); 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. (Sept 21, 22, 23)
Piranha Ramen ticket website

Related: Holiday Jack
Photos ©SoraNews24
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