By Hiroyuki Nemoto / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterOKAYAMA — Ramen made with wild boar is now being offered at a hotel in Kibichuo, Okayama Prefecture, as a unique local specialty.
Kibikougen Resort Hotel, which invented the ramen using wild boars captured in the town, named it “Hee Ramen” as people who eat it utter words of surprise like, “Is this really made with wild boars?” The taste of the soup with wild boar bone broth is full-bodied but simple in flavor, which is unexpected. “Hee” is a Japanese exclamation meaning “wow.”
The hotel, which started offering the ramen at its restaurant in mid-March, also plans to provide the soup to other restaurants in Kibichuo, hoping it will revitalize the town.
Kibichuo, which nestles between mountains 400 meters to 600 meters high, has been troubled by wild boars causing serious damage to farm produce. Despite protective measures such as setting up fences, farms have been suffering from damage done by the boars, which have spoiled rice, black soybean and vegetable crops. The wild boars’ large appetites resulted in ¥6.6 million in damages in fiscal 2017.
The hotel started looking into the cooking process with the aim of making use of the wild boars in June last year. Through trial and error, it finally came up with a soup with a rich taste after boiling the rock-hard bones for about 10 hours and using local vegetables.
A processing plant in the town that makes chashu roast meat fillets for the ramen managed to eliminate the unpleasant odor of boar. The hotel also invented rice flour noodles for the ramen, and started providing the dish at a restaurant in the hotel called Kagaya and at other places at ¥780.
About 70 people from restaurants, administrative offices, the tourism industry and other places joined a tasting event in late February, and tasted three types of ramen with different flavors: soy sauce, salt and tomato.
“The more the chashu is chewed, the tastier it becomes,” said one person who participated.
The hotel created a network for sharing the soup — the key to ramen flavor — with other restaurants. It wants each restaurant to devise its own special flavor in the hopes of accelerating the growing number of visitors who explore various restaurants to eat ramen while staying in the town.
The hotel said three restaurants have ordered the soup. “I hope the ramen will give momentum not just to catching wild boars and making use of game meat, but also to attracting tourists,” said Kibichuo Mayor Masanori Yamamoto.
“I want to make ‘Hee Ramen’ the town’s local specialty, and I want to promote this town across the nation,” said the president of the hotel’s operating company, Keizo Shibamura.
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