Sauna ramen Tokyo Samen Saunatiger restaurant Asakusa noodles Japanese food review taste test photos

A new type of noodle experience by sauna lovers for sauna lovers…but maybe not for ramen lovers.

While Japan is famous around the world for its onsen hot springs bathing culture, in recent years, there’s been a sauna boom, with people sweating it out in private Finnish-style sauna rooms and even a city bus that offers onboard sauna rides.

Now, the boom appears to be spiralling out of control even further, with the introduction of a ramen restaurant…run by a sauna company.

▼ The signboard for the restaurants reads: “Real Ramen Made By a Sauna Shop!!

Located in Tokyo’s Akasaka, the new restaurant is called Samen — a portmanteau of the words “sauna” and “ramen” —  and it’s run by a sauna business called Sauna & Co. Opened on 1 August, the concept for the new restaurant is said to be “ramen that you’ll want to eat after a sauna” and the interior is designed to capture the calm, relaxed atmosphere of a sauna as well.

▼ Ramen for sauna lovers, by sauna lovers.

Our reporter P.K. Sanjun isn’t a massive fan of saunas but that’s not to say he doesn’t like them. What he is a massive fan of, though, is ramen, and whenever a new joint appears on the scene, he’s always keen to try it, so he hopped on a train to order lunch there.

As soon as he arrived, he ordered his “golden trio”, a combination he often orders at ramen restaurants, consisting of ramen (990 yen [US$6.70]), gyoza (350 yen), and a mini chashu bowl (390 yen). While he wouldn’t say the interior was exactly reminiscent of a sauna, it was simple in design, with calm lighting that helped put him in a relaxed frame of mind for his meal.

Taking a sip of the ramen broth first, P.K. was pleased to find that it was deliciously rich, with a distinct tonkotsu soy sauce flavour. Rather than having a strong, punchy taste, this tonkotsu broth had a gentle flavour that spread gradually throughout the palate, in much the same way steam spreads gradually throughout a sauna room.

The noodles were thin and delicious, melding beautifully with the broth to deliver mouthfuls of flavour. If you ate this ramen inside an actual sauna, you’d be bowled over by how authentic it tastes — real Japanese-style flavour, with attention to detail in creating a well-rounded balance of salt and umami notes.

The gyoza was crispy with a light texture that left a good impression, and the chashu bowl was equally good. Both appeared to be aiming for a flavour that wasn’t light but not heavy either, and they managed to hit that perfect Goldilocks balance with a satisfying midway that will suit a wide variety of palates.

These lighter-than-usual flavours are actually a good match for the sauna concept, because you wouldn’t want to fill up on rich flavours or wrangle your chopsticks with noodles in a thick broth straight after a sauna.

▼ While that light flavour profile might appeal to some noodle lovers, P.K. was hoping for a bit more flavour.

Then again, as we said, P.K. isn’t a huge fan of saunas so perhaps that detracted from the experience as well. Still, if you’re a sauna lover, P.K. reckons you’ll likely be impressed by the restaurant, so it’s worth stopping by to check it out.

Or you could simply stay home and eat Cup Noodles under your very own Bathtub Sauna Umbrella.

Restaurant information
Samen / サ麺
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka 3-15-1, Sion Building 1F
東京都港区赤坂3-15-1 Sionビル1F
Open 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (lunch); 5:30 p.m. 3:00 a.m. -27:00 (dinner)
Irregular holidays

Photos © SoraNews24
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