Earlier this month, we decided to find out just how many hard-boiled eggs you can fit into a bowl of ramen/human stomach, and found out that 10 was a doable and delicious number. But while an egg is a nice accent to a bowl of Japan’s favorite kind of noodles, the king of ramen toppings is chashu, the slice of roast pork that adds some heft and protein to the meal.
Most ramen in Japan comes with a solitary slice of chashu, but some places allow you to pile on more pork. Since we’d already gone with ten times the normal amount of toppings with eggs, we decided to raise the scale to the second power and chow down on a bowl of ramen with 100 slices of chashu.
After polishing off the 10-egg version we talked about above, you’d think that our intrepid Japanese-language reporter P.K. would be sick of ramen. He’s always up for a challenge, though, so he jumped at the chance to go on this extra-meaty adventure.
This time, we decided to pay a visit to a branch of ramen chain Ishiyaki Ramen Kazan, which right now is having a chashu fair promotion where you can ask for up to 30 slices of chashu with your ramen. We walked in and asked if they could indulge our request to up that count to an even 100, which got us a nervous smile and a “Please wait a moment,” from our server who went to double check with the manager.
“OK, as long as it’s just this one time,” came the response from the man in charge. Of course, putting together such a heaping helping of meat takes time, so we whipped out our camera to document the assembly process.
We’re not sure which is more impressive, the elegant way the chef spiraled the meat instead of just dumping it all in the bowl, or that he still went to the trouble of carefully balancing a sliced egg on top.
After taking a few moments to recover from the sight of this awe-inspiring spire of pork that seemed to reach the heavens themselves, P.K. grabbed a pair of chopsticks and dug in.
And since this is by no means Kazan’s standard serving size, it’s not like the restaurant is trying to use quantity to make up for a lack of quality. The chashu has just the right amount of fat, giving it a pleasing sweetness, and P.J. continued chowing down at a speed of roughly three slices a minute.
The miso broth is tasty too, and alternating between sips of it and mouthfuls of meat had P.J. in ramen paradise. As a matter of fact, he was in such bliss that he thought he could easily eat the whole thing…
…until he got about 10 minutes into his meal and his pace dropped considerably. Tasty as it was, he was running out of room in his stomach.
But if you walk into a restaurant and ask for 100 slices of pork, you’re going to give the impression that there’s no limit to your appetite. At just about the time P.J. could feel himself hitting the wall, the server came back over with a free bowl of white rice and the friendly suggestion that it would go great with the chashu.
He was exactly right, too, as rice and chashu are an incredibly pleasant combination, provided you haven’t already eaten a few dozen slices of the latter. Unfortunately, P.J. had, and in the end, he sadly had to give up at the 40-slice mark.
Feeling remorseful for having let the staff down by not cleaning his plate/bowl after they’d prepared such a massive meal that was both tasty and tastefully arranged, P.K. prostrated himself in apology before heading home for several hours of digestion and post-lunch napping.
Again, while you can currently walk into any Kazan branch and order 30 slices of chashu, if you’re hoping for more, you’ll have to consult with the staff. Chashu goju mai de mo daijobu desu ka? would be “Is it OK if I order 50 slices of chashu?” and “Chashu hyaku mai de mo daijobu desu ka?” would be the request for 100. You’ll also want to check your wallet (our 100-slice bowl set us back 10,638 yen [US$85]) and, of course, your appetite.