TOKYO — Ramen noodles are a favorite of penniless students all over the world. All you have to do is boil water and you've got a hot meal.
But sometimes you need cold, hard cash — and lots of it — to get your ramen.
Chef Shouichi Fujimaki's audacious response to japan's sluggish economy is the world's most expensive bowl of noodles.
The 10,000 yen ($120) ramen is the only dish Fujimaki serves at his gourmet ramen shop in Tokyo. You have to order it three days in advance.
"Yes, everyone thinks I'm crazy," Fujimaki said.
And while it's the best bowl of noodles this reporter has ever eaten, the fact that he's still in business after opening in January is a sign that not all is lost in Japan to deflation.
On the other end of the spectrum is $3 ramen. In deflation-gripped Japan, one restaurant chain says it's one of its best sellers.
"I'd never spend 10,000 yen on a bowl of ramen," said Yuta Watanabe, who says ramen is supposed to be cheap.
The restaurant started selling the bowl for $4, then dropped it to $3. The cheap bowl now makes up 30 percent of its sales.
The downward trend has followed the deflation spiral in Japan, but it remains one of the main threats to the country's economic recovery.
In this unprecedented recession and deflation, the cheaper the price for meals, the better, says the restaurant chain's president.
Not so, says Fujimaki. "I want Japan to be energized," he said. "We have to dream big to get out of this bad economy."
One man's answer is a $120 bowl of ramen, where — so far — economic policy has failed.