Burger achieves the impossible by tasting like ramen despite not containing any noodles.

Our ravenous reporter Mr Sato has tried a number of ramen burgers over the years. His experiences with them began as early as 2011, when he purchased his first ramen burger at a street stall in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park.

▼ His first ramen burger had discs of crispy noodles in place of buns.

Two years later, in 2013, fast food chain Lotteria launched a ramen burger with noodles sandwiched in between the buns, and Mr Sato frightened us all by upsizing it into a Mega Tower of Carb Power.

Then, two years later, in 2015, a ramen burger specialty store from New York opened in Nakano, Tokyo. Although it’s since closed, this joint served up noodles in place of buns.

Now, eight years later, fast food chain Wendy’s has announced it too will be releasing a new burger inspired by ramen, and so it was with bristling anticipation that Mr Sato went out to find it.

This new burger is one of five new chicken burgers launched by the chain on 8 June. Inspired by flavours from countries around the world, the lineup includes a Basil Chicken Fillet Burger, a Lemon Chicken Fillet Burger, a Chicken Fillet Burger U.S.A and a Spicy Chicken Fillet Burger U.S.A. 

The burger that Mr Sato was here to try was the Garlic Soy Sauce Chicken Fillet Burger, whose genesis was summed up with this sentence on the Wendy’s website:

“From the world-famous Japanese cuisine ‘Ramen’, designed in the image of ‘Ninniku Mashi Mashi na Ramen'” 

“Ninniku Mashi Mashi na Ramen” translates to “Extra Extra Garlic Ramen”, which is essentially ramen with heeeeaaaps of garlic. It’s a style of ramen popularised by Japanese chain Jiro, which is known for its huge “Mashi Mashi” servings — a style so distinct it’s often classed in a genre all on its own, referred to simply as “Jiro-style ramen“.

Mr Sato loves Jiro-style ramen, so his taste buds were just about leaping out of his mouth with excitement at trying the new burger. However, when he received it, he became a bit concerned when he couldn’t spy any noodles. 

▼ Mr Sato purchased the burger as part of a medium set, with a drink and fries, which came to 1,070 yen (US$7.68).

▼ Is this really the image of ‘Ninniku Mashi Mashi na Ramen’?!

▼ Lifting the bun, Mr Sato was unable to find a single noodle.

Whipping out his phone to read the fine print, Mr Sato discovered that his expectations had been betrayed. He’d automatically thought that a burger inspired by ramen would have ramen in it, but as it turns out, this burger merely contains a sauce that’s reminiscent of a garlicky soy sauce ramen.

Feeling let down by the lack of ramen, Mr Sato let out a sigh and took a bite. However, as he chewed, his disappointment turned to relief and then excitement, because his taste buds were quickly informing him that what he was eating did in fact taste like ramen!

In fact, it tasted just like the Ninniku Mashi Mashi na Ramen sold at Jiro, which contains around three times the garlic of a usual dish. Despite not being able to see any garlic in the burger, the sauce was full-on garlic, dialled up to the extreme, just how he liked it.

Mr Sato was amazed at how much punch was in the sauce — it was so garlicky that the taste of fried chicken was totally drowned out beneath it all. Long after he’d finished eating, the garlic’s unique pungency remained on his tongue, making him yearn for another taste of the unusual chicken burger.

Oddly enough, he felt as if he’d just eaten ramen despite not having any noodles at all, and it was all thanks to that terrific sauce. Who knew the taste of ramen could be reproduced in such a way? Mr Sato surely didn’t, but now he knows how good it is he’ll definitely be back for another taste of it, and next time, he might try it with a bottle of garlic cola for good measure.

Related: Wendy’s
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