As Japanese food fans ay already know, karaage is the word for Japanese-style fried chicken. What makes it “Japanese-style” is how the meat is seasoned, with a mix of soy sauce, ginger, mirin (cooking sake), and garlic.
But we recently came across a kind of karaage that’s Japanese in yet another way while walking around downtown Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood. It’s called Ikekara, and as the restaurant’s bilingual sign helpfully explains, it’s fried chicken coated in instant ramen noodles.
So why the “Ikekara” name? The “Ike” part is a reference to Ikeda, a city in Osaka Prefecture. While not as well known as Osaka City, Ikeda does have a claim to fame: it’s the town where inventor and entrepreneur Momofuku Ando was living when he created Chicken Ramen, Japan’s first-ever instant ramen, whose success would spur Ando to found the company Nissin and develop its flagship Cup Noodle brand.
▼ Chicken Ramen
Chicken Ramen is still a big seller today, so in an edible salute to the local hero, restaurants and food vendors in Ikeda recently started selling Ikeda karaage, or “Ikekara,” in which pieces of uncooked Chicken Ramen are used as the breading.
As of the end of October, there’s now an Ikekara shop in Tokyo too, simply called Ikekara, which is part of the Shinjuku Yokocho restaurant row building, with both eat-in and takeout options. For to-go orders, you can choose between either a regular size for 500 yen that come in a cup or an extra-large “box” for 1,500 yen.
Back at SoraNews24 HQ, we assembled a panel of taste testers, and they all agreed that Ikekara is some seriously tasty stuff that they’d like to eat again. As you can probably imagine, the outside is very crispy, with a strong Chicken Ramen flavor that’s complemented by the chicken breast meat inside the noodle coating.
We did feel, though, that Ikekara probably works better as a snack than a main dish, since the flavor is so strong and there’s a lot of crunching in every bite. So grab some friends (and maybe some beers) when you grab an order of this instant ramen-covered karaage, and everyone will be instantly happy.
Ikekara (Shinjuku Yokocho branch) / 池カラ（新宿横丁店）
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-20-8 Topshouse Shinjuku Yokocho
東京都新宿区新宿3-20-8 TOPSHOUSE 新宿横丁
Open 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
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