At Fukuoka Now, we’re noodle fanatics – we can’t get enough of soba, udon, champon and – of course – ramen. So as soon as we heard rumors of a tomato ramen, we couldn’t rest until we’d tried some. Venturing out that very lunchtime, we headed to 333.
As one might expect of a restaurant nestled in the achingly hip backstreets of Daimyo, the interior kept it quirky: reds and purples with the occasional glittering samurai chilli and showgirl tomato hanging next to the tables. We made our orders at the vending machine, and then settled down to discuss what we thought this bowl of wonderful weirdness would be like. Would we soon be supping a bowl of watered-down tomato soup? Or something more akin to a failed pasta al pomodoro? Would it just taste like someone had dumped ketchup into a bowl of ramen?
Needless to say we were expecting novelty, but not necessarily a tasty bowl of ramen. When the tomato ramen arrived – a vibrant red broth topped with celery and some freshly chopped tomato – we surreptitiously took our first sips: our original fears fell away – it was delicious! The tomato broth was rich and flavorsome (the tomatoes’ origin is apparently a trade secret), with springy noodles as well as surprise slithers of delicious pork (well, a surprise inasmuch as they can’t be seen on first glance through the near-opaque broth).
333 also prides itself on its karamen (spicy ramen); when a customer claimed he found their most spicy ramen not at all spicy, they whipped up a new level of heat (the name of this karamen translates as “The New World”) using different, hotter peppers – try it, if you dare! The members of our group who ordered karamen decided to play it safe, some going for “zero heat” and still finding their eyes watering, and one trying “low heat” and subsequently struggling not to dilute the broth with her own spice-induced tears. Despite the battle with the peppers for supremacy, the karamen was pronounced generally delicious, the wisp-like editions of egg making for a pleasantly earthy contrast to the spice.
333 gets busy at night (when they also have a side menu available) but is relatively quiet at lunchtime, making it a great place to grab a quick and unusual lunch! So go forth and sample the rich, vibrantly colored goodness that is tomato ramen!
Address: 1-11-27 Daimyo, Chuo-ku
Menu: Tomato ramen ¥680, karamen (spicy ramen) zero ¥720, low ¥720, medium ¥770, strong ¥820, extreme ¥920, tomato and cheese risotto add-on (for tomato ramen only) ¥300, egg and risotto add-on (for karamen only) ¥300, draft beer ¥550, wine (glass) ¥400, soft drink ¥300