“I love what I do, and I do what I love!”
Frank smiles. He has just finished giving us a preview of his latest ramen tour, where we sampled some of the best ramen Japan has to offer. As he sits down to tell us all about his exclusive ramen tasting tours, his passion for Japan’s most popular soul food is extremely apparent.
“Japan is a wonderful country,” he begins, “Safe, clean, friendly, the scenery is amazing, transportation is great, and of course, the food is incredible. I started giving ramen tours because I want people to feel as strongly about ramen as I do — I want them to feel like they’re having some of the best meals of their life.”
Frank’s popular ramen tasting tours are a great way for busy tourists to make sure they do not miss out on the opportunity to deeply explore this culturally significant dish.
At the heart of it, Japanese ramen may seem like a simple meal; consisting of wheat noodles served in a savory broth, but with a variety of different soup bases, toppings and embellishments, this dish takes on a different flavor across every region of Japan.
In Tokyo, the ramen features curly noodles in a light and salty soy-based soup, meanwhile down in the southern island of Kyushu, the famous Hakata ramen is made from a thick pork bone broth, and locals prefer to eat their noodles “barikata” style, meaning slightly undercooked with more of a chewy consistency. In Sapporo, the ramen has a tangy misobased soup broth instead and is garnished with corn and butter.
“Between the four main ramen styles, I probably like shio (salt-based broth) the most. But I won’t just eat shio ramen of course — I enjoy and appreciate all varieties! I’m also a big fan of abura soba (soupless ramen), for example.”
For the average tourist, it would be almost impossible to enjoy such a wide variety of ramen dishes in such a limited time — especially considering the large portion sizes, guaranteed to fill even the hungriest of bellies.
Frank saw this as an issue he wanted to address in his tours.
“I thought, if people could sample many different styles of ramen in smaller bowls, it might be more interesting.”
Frank’s tours take visitors through some of his favorite ramen shops, in three distinct neighborhoods in central Tokyo, where they can learn everything from the origins of ramen to the trends and projections for the future. Over the course of the three-hour tour, visitors can sample six different kinds of ramen, served in 1/3 to 1/4 sized portions.
“Come hungry!” He warns.
For Frank, his passion for the Japanese noodle dish has consumed his entire life — claiming to eat as many as 300 bowls of ramen per year!
“The great thing about ramen is there’s so much variety and there are new styles of ramen being developed all the time! This is just one reason why I never get bored of ramen.”
In his spare time, he writes a ramen review blog and also has a popular ramen-based Instagram account, amassing a fanbase of almost 10,000 followers. With so much experience under his belt, his loyal readers look forward to his reviews.
Frank comes from an extremely multicultural background; His father is from the USA, his mother is Filipino, and he was born and raised in Japan.
“I was born in Tokyo, but I was raised on ramen,” he says, reciting his earliest memories of ramen being when he was only two years old. His mother would often make the dish at home, often using a combination of fresh vegetables and meat, and egg as toppings.
When asked about his future plans for his tours, Frank talks about ways to evolve his tours into more hands-on experiences for his guests.
“I will be launching a ramen kitchen experience, here on TripJunction, in the near future that I know people are going to love. Guests will have the opportunity to make their own ramen! Aside from that, I would love to expand my tour to include new shops and new types of ramen. I definitely want to continue my ramen tours, and create brand-new experiences.”
Frank’s enthusiasm for his work is easy to see, he enjoys interacting with guests and hopes he can encourage them to visit Japan more than once.
“I don’t know anybody who has come to Japan and hasn’t had a great time. Come to Japan once, and I promise you, it won’t be your last visit.”
Frank offers his popular ramen tasting tours during both day and night. Starting in the trendy neighborhood of Naka-Meguro, this three-hour tour will take you to three of Frank’s personally selected ramen shops, where you can try a total of six bowls of uniquely flavored and culturally diverse ramen dishes. Each experience includes one beverage, as well.