The ramen is eaten on the go, alone or with friends.
Top left: shoyu ramen, right: tonkotsu ramen. Bottom left: shio ramen, right: miso ramen
Ramen is often eaten at a counter, alone or with friends.
Plastic reproductions of ramen arranged at the entrance of a restaurant.
Going noodles for ramen
It was love at first sight for the Japanese and this dish, originally from China. Let us tell you about this love story that dates back more than a century...
Often eaten directly at the serving counter, ramen is a fairly simple and unpretentious dish, but its success is undisputed.
Rich and nourishing, ramen noodles are in fact made with Chinese wheat noodles and served in a broth, usually with vegetables and slices of beef, pork, chicken or seafood. The alkaline mineral water that is added to the dough gives it its the yellow color and special texture. They were in all likelihood introduced to Japan through Chinese immigrants in the late nineteenth century.
But here's where opinions differ: some say that it was the Chinese migrants, who mostly came from the far south of Japan and settled near Kurume, Fukuoka, that allegedly invented the very first ramen.
But other sources seem to confirm that it was the work of a Chinese cook in Yokohama. Anxious to attract Japanese customers, the cook gave the noodles a Japanese flavor by plunging them into a tasty broth.
The ramen wave
Ramen has been popular since the beginning of the twentieth century, but the basic recipe has undergone some changes over time. It's now shoyu ramen (醤油, soy sauce) that wins all the votes in the Japan.
But there are many regional variations of ramen, the most popular and best known being that of Fukuoka, served in a pork bone broth (tonkotsu ramen, 豚骨), Tokyo's seasoned with salt (shio ramen,塩) and finally that of Sapporo, where the broth is mixed with miso paste (miso ramen,味噌).
Japanese Fast Food
Economical, as well as quick to make, and eat, at ramen-ya (ramen restaurants,ラーメン屋), the famous noodles are a staple in Japan. They are found on every street corner and in specialty stores, which are often very friendly and open until late. They are the place to go for late-night revellers, who won't miss out on eating a bowl of ramen before making their way home.