Ramen with deep-fried insects a sell out in Tokyo

A customer eats an 'Insect tsukemen' ramen noodle topped with fried worms and crickets at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.
A customer eats an 'Insect tsukemen' ramen noodle topped with fried worms and crickets at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
Worms are cooked with vegetables before they are used for making spring rolls at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.
Worms are cooked with vegetables before they are used for making spring rolls at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
A waiter serves 'insect tsukemen' ramen noodle to a customer at "Ramen Nagi" restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.
A waiter serves 'insect tsukemen' ramen noodle to a customer at "Ramen Nagi" restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
A customer smiles as she eats an 'Insect tsukemen' ramen noodle topped with fried worms and crickets at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.
A customer smiles as she eats an 'Insect tsukemen' ramen noodle topped with fried worms and crickets at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
 Crickets in a pot are seen after being cooked as a soup for 'insect tsukemen' at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.
Crickets in a pot are seen after being cooked as a soup for 'insect tsukemen' at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Curious Japanese foodies queued up outside a Tokyo restaurant for a taste of a rare dish - ramen garnished with deep-fried worms and crickets.

Within about four hours, the Ramen Nagi restaurant had sold out 100 bowls of "insect tsukemen" noodles it had prepared for Sunday's (April 9) single-day event.

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

"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 organised 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.

 

 

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.


 A chef places worms and crickets on a noodle as he serves 'insect tsukemen' noodle at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

The full course, costing 3,000 yen (S$38), consisted of insect ramen, a bowl of rice with crickets, spring rolls with fried worms, and ice cream flavoured with insect powder. The ramen alone cost 1,500 yen .


 An 'Insect tsukemen' ramen noodle topped with fried worms and crickets is placed on a customer's table at 'Ramen Nagi' restaurant in Tokyo, Japan on April 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

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. "Ramen is just taking off now in a big wave in California so...maybe 10 years, five years later?"