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  • Ramen is a widely popular noodle soup dish appreciated all over the world.

  • Although well known internationally in its instant noodle form, there is much more to this cuisine item than being a dorm room snack.

  • Chinese in origin, since making its way to Japan, ramen has become one of the most popular foods in the country, often inexpensive, quickly served and delicious.

  • It's an excellent option for both luxury and budget travelers alike.

  • With multiple ramen restaurants called "ramen-ya" in just about every town, the dish has developed greatly since coming to Japan.

  • In recent years, some ramen shops have even been awarded Michelin stars.

  • Thousands of variations of ramen now exist, and there are also many interesting regional varieties.

  • However, the basic elements of ramen are fairly straightforward.

  • A broth base, long thin wheat noodles and some combination of toppings.

  • Ramen is categorized according to the style of its base, and the four most popular types are: Shoyu Ramen, with the soy sauce flavored broth; Miso Ramen, made with soybean paste or miso; Shio Ramen, a clear broth seasoned with salt; and Tonkotsu Ramen, made with pork bones.

  • Before we go deeper into the details of ramen, its variations or how to eat it,

  • first, let's talk about the history of ramen.

  • Ramen is believed to be a variation of the Chinese La Mian Noodles.

  • It is said that the very first reference of the dish in Japan was in the late 17th century, when a Chinese Confucian scholar treated Lord Tokugawa Mitsukuni to a bowl of noodles in a broth topped with vegetables and meat.

  • Another theory is that ramen got introduced to Japan in the mid 19th century, when Japan opened its ports to the world and the La Mian Noodles dish was cooked and enjoyed by the Chinese community in Yokohama Chinatown.

  • A third theory attributes the emergence of ramen in Japan to the Chinese restaurant called Rairai Ken, which opened in 1910 in Asakusa.

  • The dish grew in popularity and started to spread around the country, most notably in Sapporo, Kitakata and Fukuoka.

  • After the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, ramen started to be sold at street food stalls called "yatai".

  • The next big date in the history of ramen is in 1958, when the Nisshin Foods Company created instant noodles.

  • Later, instant noodles were developed further with the creation of the cup noodle in 1971, which removed the need for a bowl, making for an even more convenient way to eat instant ramen.

  • Today, instant noodles remained popular worldwide and are offered in a wide variety of flavors and sizes.

  • There are even a Cupnoodles Museum in Osaka and Yokohama, where you can choose your own toppings and make your own personal cup noodle.

  • Ramen and its variations. As we said earlier, Ramen consists of three key elements:

  • Broth, noodles and toppings.

  • There are many combinations that can be found within these three categories, which each ramen shop uses to make a unique flavor and eating experience.

  • The broth is usually based on either pork, salt, shoyu or soy sauce, or miso.

  • The noodles are usually long and made of wheat, but they can be made in a range of ways, anything from thin and curly to fat and straight.

  • At some ramen restaurants, guests are even asked for their preference on how thick and firm the noodles are.

  • Lastly, there is a large number of ingredients that can be used as toppings.

  • Some popular ones are chashu meat, bamboo shoot or menma in Japanese, dried seaweed or nori, leek, a soft boiled egg, and several others.

  • All these variables allow for millions of combinations, making one bowl of ramen different from another.

  • Many regions in Japan have their own signature styles as well, such as Sapporo Ramen, which uses a thick miso broth and is topped with corn and butter.

  • Kitakata Ramen in Fukushima Prefecture, which has a light shoyu base soup with thick and wavy noodles topped by green onions, menma and chashu pork.

  • Tokyo Ramen, which is so popular nationwide, it has become the stereotypical Shoyu Rahman. Hakata Ramen in Fukuoka Prefecture, which has a creamy tonkotsu broth with thin noodles.

  • Customarily, the best place to enjoy a bowl in Fukuoka is at one of Fukuoka's many food stalls or yatai in Japanese, especially along the river on Nakasu Island.

  • Onomichi Ramen from Hiroshima Prefecture, which is made with a shoyu soup flavored with dashi fish stock and local seafood.

  • Down in Okinawa, the specialty is called Okinawa Soba.

  • This variation has a salt based soup topped with green onions, kamaboko, soft broiled pork and fresh ginger.

  • There are many other regional takes on ramen, but hopefully this gives you an idea.

  • One way to sample many of these regional specialties all in one place, without traveling the whole country, is at the Ramen Museum in Yokohama,

  • which allows visitors to try various different bowls from around Japan in the setting of Tokyo in the fifties.

  • Aside from putting all the ingredients in the same bowl, there's another form of ramen, which is served in a different way.

  • This is called Tsukemen.

  • Once served,

  • you dip the noodles into the broth as you eat.

  • How to eat Ramen.

  • Eating at a ramen shop is always an interesting experience, although at a few shops you can still order as you usually would,

  • many ramen-ya now have streamlined the process by having customers order via a vending machine located at the entrance.

  • After heading inside, hand the tickets to a staff member.

  • Getting a seat at the counter is always a good opportunity to observe the chefs in action preparing your bowl,

  • but of course, tables are fine, too.

  • In some shops, you can ask for the way you want your noodles to be cooked, either Katame, which is al dente, Futsu, which is normal or Yawarakame, which is soft.

  • Sometimes you can also decide how fatty your broth will be, going from Assari or light, to Futsu, normal, to Kotteri, which is thick.

  • Once the bowl is presented in front of you, here are the recommended steps to eating ramen.

  • First, sample the broth, then try out the noodles, followed finally by eating the toppings.

  • One thing that might surprise unaware visitors is that in Japan, ramen is usually eaten by slurping the noodles, sometimes quite loudly.

  • This isn't considered bad manners.

  • On the contrary, it's thought to be the best way to eat ramen.

  • By slurping them, you allow the air to cool down the noodles while also keeping them coated in delicious broth.

  • But don't worry if you can't or do not want to slurp, it's fine. After you finish all the noodles, if you are still hungry and have some broth left in the bowl,

  • some shops offer an extra serving of noodle called Kaedama for an additional fee.

  • Also, it's not impolite to not finish all the soup in the bowl, especially with thicker broth like Tonkotsu, which has a high amount of fat.

  • Since ramen is considered a type of fast food in Japan, it's good manners to leave as soon as you're finished, since people may be waiting for their turn to eat.

  • Budget wise, ramen is a cheap meal, with a bowl averaging around 600 to 1000 yen.

  • Over the years, ramen has never ceased to evolve, and with recent variations such as vegetarian and halal ramen being developed, it is starting to appeal to an even broader audience.

  • It's exciting to wait and see what the future holds for this unique dish.

  • We hope this video will allow you to experience, appreciate and enjoy ramen for yourself even more.

  • For more information about Japan or to watch another video, click the links on the screen now or head over to japanguide.com, your comprehensive, up-to-date travel guide firsthand from Japan.

  • Thanks for watching.

Ramen is a widely popular noodle soup dish appreciated all over the world.

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Ramen: History, Variations & How to Eat | Japanese Food | japan-guide.com

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/04/17
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