Food Culture – Ramen

2014 October 20
by Dani A

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through food. It’s a way for you to eat delicious meal while also learning about the country from which the dish originates.

Ramen (ラーメン or らーめん) is a perfect example of this food culture. It’s one of Japan’s most well-known foods, aside from sushi.

The Brief History of Ramen

Though ramen is most associated with Japan, it actually came from China. (Ramen means ‘Chinese-style noodles’). However, its popularity skyrocketed in the 1950s when Momofuku Ando created instant ramen and the Nissin Food company. Since then, both instant and the original ramen have made their way around the world! It’s become both comfort, similar to the all-comforting chicken noodle soup of the West, as well as a cheap source of energy, especially among college students.

 

Types of Ramen

Ramen is so awesome that it comes a bunch of varieties! I’m sure we’re all familiar with the instant ramen flavors of chicken, beef, shrimp, etc. but those aren’t the real thing. In Japan, the soup actually differs from region to region. Generally, these differences are based on the type of broth (soy sauce, miso, salt, or tonkotsu) and toppings (egg, fish cake, leeks, pork, etc.). While in Japan, my friends and I made it our mission to eat the ramen of whatever region we were visiting. Here are some examples of the ramen we enjoyed (pictures courtesy of ‘Big Dog’).

Kyoto-style Pork Ramen

Kyoto-style Pork Ramen

Osaka Black-style Ramen

Osaka Black-style Ramen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These ramen tasted just as delicious as they look. Here are some regional types of ramen, courtesy of tofugu.com

Where to Get Ramen?

Where can you get ramen? Anywhere. In Japan, the number of ramen shops are about as numerous as the conbinis (convenient stores). There are ramen carts, formal ramen restaurants, and the casual shops that only have a curtain to protect you from the elements. There’s even a ramen museum in Yokohama!

I haven’t had ramen in the States (thanks to my bias of having eaten ramen in Japan), but the following restaurants seem to be the best in town (NYC)!

Hide-Chan Ramen

Terakawa Ramen

Ippudo NY

Totto Ramen

And who could forget the instant ramen? Ando’s Nissin was the first instant ramen company, but it was soon joined by Maruchan, Sapporo Ichiban, and others, including companies from Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Be careful of the saltiness of these instant meals. . .

 

How to Make Your Own Ramen!

Every now and again, I’m tired of buying ramen and attempt to make it myself. In these moments, I thank the heavens for the internet and try to follow the directions of the following videos. Of course, some of the ingredients used in these videos aren’t always available in an ordinary supermarket, so improvising is a must!

Cooking With Dog has many ramen videos, but this is one of my favorites!

I also enjoy runnyrunny999‘s ramen recipe:

Thanks for reading!

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