Tachikawa Mashi Mashi challenges the concept of what exactly ramen is.

Men is the Japanese word for noodles, and if you’re just learning that for the first time, you might have a light bulb retroactively turning on in your head as you realize that’s where the “men” part of the word “ramen” comes from. So imagine our surprise when we found a ramen restaurant in Tokyo that serves ramen without men.

The Noodle-less Ramen Rice, or Men-nashi Ramen Rice in Japanese, recently appeared on the menu at Tachikawa Mashi Mashi, which has two branches in Tokyo. Well, technically it appeared on the  machine at the restaurant’s entrance where you buy your meal ticket, with a big red arrow you can’t miss pointing to the order button.

▼ 麺なしラーメンライス = Noodle-less Ramen Rice

Tachikawa Mashi Mashi specializes in what’s become known as “Jiro-inspired ramen,” a noodle genre popularized by the Ramen Jiro chain and its particularly pleasurable guilty-pleasure ramen that’s packed with pork, garlic, and the delicious oils that result from soaking them together in the broth. Our ace reporter Mr. Sato is a big fan of Jiro-inspired ramen, but sometimes finds it a little too heavy for him to eat an entire bowl of it, so as he paid for his 1,100-yen (US$7.90) Noodle-less Ramen Rice he expected this to be a way to enjoy the flavor in a less filling form.

That expectation turned out to be half right.

Sure, there are no noodles in that bowl, but that doesn’t mean it’s a small portion of food by any means. You get a heaping pile of braised chashu pork, boiled shabu shabu-style pork, a whole bunch of chives, and tons of chives and bean sprouts.

Really, Mr. Sato can’t overemphasize how many bean sprouts there are. While his eyes were immediately drawn to the meat, as he ate it started to feel like he was having a bowl of vegetable soup with ramen broth.

Speaking of the broth, it turned out to be not nearly as heavy and greasy as it looked at first glance, and the presence of yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) peel is a classy touch that makes the flavor both refreshing and invigorating.

You could toss your rice into the broth directly, but Mr. Sato also recommends the elegant approach of transferring some of the toppings onto the rice instead. The bean sprouts in particular soak up a lot of the flavorful broth, but still maintain enough of their crisp texture for a great contrast with the soft, fluffy rice.

So while ramen without the men might sound weird, it turns out it’s a great idea, just like the last time Tachikawa Mashi Mashi swapped something else for noodles in its ramen.

Location information
Tachikawa Mashi Mashi (Kokubunji branch) / 立川マシマシ 国分寺店
Address: Tokyo-to, Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-31
Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

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