Ramen flavored with insects attracts thrillseekers in Tokyo

by

Reuters

Within about four hours, the Ramen Nagi restaurant had sold out of the 100 bowls of “insect tsukemen” noodles it had prepared for Sunday’s single-day event.

The noodles were topped with about a dozen small crickets and mealworms, which customers then dipped into soups flavored with crickets, grasshoppers or silkworm powder.

People line up Sunday in front of Ramen Nagi in Tokyo for a one-day event that featured
People line up Sunday in front of Ramen Nagi in Tokyo for a one-day event that featured ‘insect tsukemen’ noodles. | REUTERS

“It’s deep-fried, so it’s really crispy, and it doesn’t have a bad taste,” said 22-year-old student Anri Nakatani. “It’s almost like a deep-fried shrimp.”

The event was organized by the restaurant owner, and Yuta Shinohara, a 22-year-old who has set up insect-eating events in Tokyo, including a Valentine’s Day celebration that served chocolates, cakes and cocktails featuring insects.

Crickets are cooked in the soup for
Crickets are cooked in the soup for ‘insect tsukemen’ at Ramen Nagi. | REUTERS

Shinohara, who started eating bugs as a child, wants to promote the alternative food culture in Japan and around the world, through ramen, a popular Japanese food.

“Through ramen, I’d like to spread how fun and delicious it is to eat insects,” he said.

Cooked worms are added to the filling of a spring roll at Ramen Nagi.
Cooked worms are added to the filling of a spring roll at Ramen Nagi. | REUTERS

The full course, costing ¥3,000, consisted of insect ramen, a bowl of rice with crickets, spring rolls with fried worms, and ice cream flavored with insect powder. The ramen alone cost ¥1,500.

Insects are eaten in many countries, such as China, Ghana, Mexico and Thailand. Australia’s indigenous groups have eaten insects for protein for generations. Bugs are even part of traditional Japanese cuisine in rural areas, but few city dwellers have had the opportunity to try them.

California tourist Steve Lee enjoyed the dish, but said it would take time to catch on in the United States.

The main event on Ramen Nagi
The main event on Ramen Nagi’s one-day event: ramen noodles topped with fried worms and crickets. | REUTERS