Any guidebook to Kyoto will suggest you visit the city’s historic temples and beautiful shrines, but when it comes to eating food you can’t have anywhere else, a trip to the ancient capital just isn’t complete without a visit to a restaurant dubbed “Fire Ramen."
The restaurant, whose official name is Menbaka Ichidai, gets its nickname from its signature dish: a flaming bowl of ramen. And it’s not just about the noodles – it’s about the experience, as diners sit at the counter in front of the chef and are told to lean away while holding their hands behind their back so the chef can add one final ingredient to their bowl of noodles.
▼ That final ingredient is literal fire.
Founded in Kyoto in 1984, the restaurant has become hugely popular with overseas tourists, even ranking as the sixth most popular restaurant for foreigners in Japan in 2017. However, with international travel now heavily restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, customer numbers have dropped at the Kyoto restaurant, forcing Menbaka to close its doors temporarily until next year.
However, when one door closes, another opens, and for Menbaka, that door has opened in Singapore, where they’re now opening their first-ever overseas branch. The opening was originally scheduled to take place in April this year, but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Japan Food Entertainment, the company behind Menbaka, says they received many offers for overseas expansion, but decided to expand into Singapore after partnering with South East Asia Food Entertainment (SEAFE). This collaboration allowed them to source the best ingredients to help recreate the flavor of the original ramen as closely as possible, leading SEAFE to acquire franchise rights outside of Japan.
In keeping with the concept of serving up not just ramen but an entertaining food experience, the new branch opened on Nov 24 at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, an urban mall that’s also one of Singapore’s leading tourist destinations.
Japan Food Entertainment says they plan to expand with more stores, mainly in Asia, in the future.
As for the Kyoto store, Menbaka’s operators say they plan to reopen the branch early next year, so until then, this one-of-a-kind ramen experience can only be enjoyed in Singapore.
Menbaka Kyoto Fire Ramen
Address: Cineleisure Orchard 5F, 8 Grange Rd, Singapore 239695
Open 12 p.m.-9 p.m
Source: PR Times
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