Ippudo, the world famous Japanese ramen chain, has recently added a new vegan ramen to its menus in Japan, in yet another exciting development in the country’s growing plant-based scene. It comes amid a tidal wave of new plant-based offerings launched in Japan, testament to what food industry leaders have recently dubbed an unstoppable trend all over the world.
Japan’s iconic noodle restaurant Ippudo has introduced a 100% plant-based version of its beloved tonkotsu ramen, which is traditionally made with a pork bone-based broth. The vegan version is of course made without any pork bones, animals or animal-derived ingredients, and is instead made with a base of soy milk, kombu and porcini mushrooms. The noodles contain whole wheat flour and are made without any eggs, unlike its conventional counterpart.
Even the toppings are totally veganised, such as the signature Japanese “char siu” mock meat made from kidney beans and wheat protein, otherwise known as seitan. All the other veggie-based regular toppings also feature in the bowl, such as shimeji, maitake and wood ear mushrooms, scallions and miso paste.
Launched on February 1, the chain says that these noodles, available for an affordable ¥1,000 per bowl (US$9.50) will be served at select locations across Japan for a limited time period – though fans are already speculating it could land on the permanent menu given its popularity.
In a glowing review by local publication Sora News 24, the plant-based ramen at Ippudo was described as a “tasty adventure” and “definitely worth a try”.
“After taking a sip of the broth, we were immediately impressed. It didn’t just look creamy, it really was creamy, so much so that we could’ve been fooled into thinking this really was tonkotsu,” wrote the review. “Here’s hoping this is just the start of Ippudo’s venture into the world of plant-based ramen.”
Ippudo’s decision to introduce plant-based ramen to its menus in Japan comes as the country’s vegan food scene continues to grow in response to surging demand. Other chains that have recently added vegan offerings to their menus include big names like Muji, who launched four new meatless meat alternatives, and Mos Burger’s new green plant-based burger.
Smaller food businesses have also taken the plant-based leap. In the country’s capital Tokyo, vegan bakeries are serving up dairy-free Japanese-style milk buns and a burger joint has turned their operations 100% plant-based, ditching beef entirely and now grilling an entire menu of vegan burgers.
With plant-based food soaring in popularity, startups in the country are innovating new 100% meat and dairy free alternatives to some of the most iconic animal-based foods that feature in traditional Japanese cuisine. Next Meats, for instance, have released the country’s first-ever line of vegan yakiniku, a popular Japanese barbecued or grilled beef dish typically served with rice.
Daiz, who have raised US$6 million in its Series A round and won an award at the Future Food Asia 2020 event, is planning to open one of the biggest vegan factories in Japan that could produce 3,300 tonnes of soy-based meat products, from a “mince” suitable for dumpling fillings to a “beef” steak served with sweet curry.
Lead image courtesy of Ippudo.