Three IPPUDO ramen shops with a limited-time menu …ramen with no noodles!
IPPUDO teamed up with Mamefuji, a tofu shop with a very long history to collaborate on a one-month, limited-shop menu in March 2016, which elicited an overwhelming response throughout Japan. This dish was the loving creation of two people both from Fukuoka prefecture resulting in Shiromaru Tonkotsu Hyakunen Tofu （Shiromaru Pork Broth Century-Old Tofu） where instead of noodles, there was tofu in the soup! So why this unexpected combination? Actually this wasn’t just meant to be quirky, but had a rational basis to it.
WORDS BY SHOTA KATO (OVER THE MOUNTAIN)
A playful collaboration between IPPUDO and a century-old tofu shop
Hello, my name is Shota Kato and I am the writer of this newsletter. There are all kinds of unlikely food combinations in the world that surprisingly earn a thumbs up: melon and prosciutto, melon and honey. This issue is going to be about such a “thumbs up” experience.
A new culinary dish joined the ranks on March 1, 2016 at three of IPPUDO’s ramen shops in Ginza, Ebisu and Yakuin for just one month. This limited-time menu was the Shiromaru Tonkotsu Hyakunen Tofu （Shiromaru Pork Broth Century-Old Tofu）. This rather quirky dish served up tofu instead of noodles in the “Shiromaru Classic” soup. The tofu （Kato tofu） came from a tofu shop with a very long history in Yame city, Fukuoka prefecture founded almost 100 years ago in 1921.
Initially when Mamefuji Corporation was founded what would be 95 years ago this year, it started out mainly as a tofu wholesaler, but it opened its first retail shop in Fukuoka city in 1998, and even opened a tofu sweet shop six years ago.
This is a tofu shop which is always planning something interesting with their tofu and among other original tofu products, they came up with “Four Brothers Deep-Fried Tofu”, a tofu pudding and smoked tofu. Mamefuji with its almost 100-year history maintains an attitude of constantly trying something new so as not to simply rely on the traditions which they’ve developed over the years, and in this sense, they have a lot in common with IPPUDO which similarly strives “to constantly change so as to never change”. So how did these two enterprises with so much in common come to collaborate? I asked Shinsuke Kato, the fourth-generation owner of Mamefuji to let us in on the secrets behind this amazing story.
“We opened a pop-up tofu shop at the Fukuoka Ramen Show which was held last November. IPPUDO’s founder Mr. Kawahara was an acquaintance and I was able to meet up with him at the Ramen Show which is when I said, “I’m hoping you’ll try out our delicious tofu sometime which we make using a difficult open-flame technique,” and he responded by saying, “Well bring it over to our testing kitchen sometime.”
Mamefuji provided a service at the Fukuoka Ramen Show, where tofu was put in the leftover ramen soup as an “extra serving” of tofu not ramen, and this proved to be quite a tasty success. A few days later, Mr. Kato brought his specialty tofu to the site where IPPUDO carries out its tasting trials and was allowed to put it in the pork broth. Everyone there tasted the dish and their verdict was that it was absolutely delicious, which is how IPPUDO came to serve this as an IPPUDO product. In other words, the extra serving of Mamefuji’s tofu evolved into the Shiromaru Tonkotsu Hyakunen Tofu. Mr. Kato told us a little bit about the characteristics of this dish which had so impressed IPPUDO’s people at the tasting trials.
By the way, the tofu that was used in the Shiromaru Tonkotsu Hyakunen Tofu was oboro dofu （silky tofu）. To finish off your drinks you can, of course, order an extra half-serving or even rice to make an improvised tofu conjee. （This congee is truly delectable!）
Although it may look to the eye as though the noodles have simply been replaced with tofu, this delicious pairing is actually proven by science. Experience this taste with its solid scientific backing for yourself and I bet you’ll be convinced. It’s also perfect even for those of you who love ramen but are worried about the carbs. Ramen and tofu – IPPUDO and Mamefuji working together on an unexpected initiative using their respective specialties. Here’s hoping we get the chance to enjoy the Shiromaru Tonkotsu Hyakunen Tofu again – the brainchild of free and flexible thinking on both sides.
WORDS BY SHOTA KATO
加藤将太 / OVER THE MOUNTAIN
About the editor. Born in 1981. From Fuefuki city in Yamanashi Prefecture (formerly Kasugai-cho of the Higashi Yamanashi district). Planned, wrote and edited texts in print and online form as well as acting as MC for various events and programs. Helped launch the online magazine CONTRAST in March 2011, and since July 2013, has been based in Shoinjinja shopping district in Setagaya. Created the trade name “OVER THE MOUNTAIN” in October 2014 to represent its business. The idea being that “people will keep on climbing over mountains” both today and tomorrow.