Rāmen is originally from Chinese food and has been developed in various ways in many localities that has its original Rāmen recipe, which make the Rāmen culture diverse. For example, in Sapporo (Hokkaido) Miso based soup, and in Hakata (Kyūshū) pork based soup, etc.
It is one of the most important Japanese foods, so nowadays wherever you go, you will find Rāmen-ya (Rāmen restaurant) in the street. It means there has been cutthroat competition in this industry, so our country’s Rāmen does not stop evolving its quolity.
If you have ever visited Japan, did you feel like trying some Rāmen restaurants but end up hesitating to going in? Also you might not have any idea, what kind of Rāmen are there or how to order dishes, etc.
This article is aimed to make all of people who are interested in Japan to get to know more about Rāmen. As well, we would like to show how to order and what to do in a restaurant, so that you have less difficulty with Japanese.
Great Variety of Rāmen
There are countless kinds of Rāmen in Japan, but here you have basic menu you should know.
Chūka soba or Shina soba.(中華そば 支那そば しなそば)
Chūka soba is derived from Chinese dish, but in Japan it has been developed in different ways for Japanese people’s liking.
Type of noodles: Thin and frizzy.
Type of soup: Basically made from Konbu (sea tangle) and dried small sardines.
Shōyu Rāmen.(醤油ラーメン, しょうゆラーメン)
Shōyu Rāmen is very similar to Chūka soba, but the difference lies in its type of noodle and soup.
Type of noodles: Straight and thicker than Chūka soba.
Type of soup: Soy sauce (Shōyu) based and made from chicken rib, dried bonito shavings and dried small sardines which are simmered for long time.
Shio Rāmen.(塩ラーメン, しおラーメン)
Type of soup: Clear colour. Shio Tare (salt flavoured sauce including sesame oil and peppers etc) is added in simmered soup made from chicken rib or pork bone. Its taste is very simple so the delicacy of chicken bone taste is outlined. This soup goes well with any kind of topping, so it is used for Yasai Rāmen (Fried vegetables Rāmen) and Gomoku Rāmen (Rāmen with vegetables and small eggs fried in thickened soy sauce.)
Tonkotsu Rāmen (豚骨ラーメン)
Tonkotsu Rāmen is said that its origin is from Fukuoka, Kyūshū.
Type of noodles: Thin and straight.
(As noodles are so thin and easy to lose chewiness, dish is served with small quantity of noodles. If you want more, you can order saying “Kaedama”, then they will serve you only noodles in your bowl.)
Type of soup: Pork bones are stewed with long green onions, gingers and garlic for long time until soup turns white.
Miso Rāmen (味噌ラーメン, みそラーメン, ミソラーメン)
Miso Rāmen is from Sapporo, Hokkaido. You will be definitely fascinated by its savoury smell.
Type of noodles: Thick and frizzy.
Type of soup: Miso is added based on Tonkotsu soup.
About toppings: Usually, fried vegetables and roast pork slices are included. (It depends on Rāmen-ya)
Tsuke men (つけ麺, つけめん)
The feature is that noodles washed in cool water after cooked and soup (which maybe cold or hot) are served separately. Then you need to eat noodles soaking them in the soup. The good point is you can soak noodles in soup as much or little as you like, say, you can adjust thickness of taste. Also noodles don’t get soggy though you eat slowly.
Abura Soba (油そば, あぶらそば)
Rāmen with very little soup might sound odd to you. You can add some seasonings on table and customise your own flavour. The good point is that you can save many calories.
Let’s go to Rāmen-ya (Restaurants).
In this section, we introduce you Rāmen-ya’s unique system. The below is general rule but please remember that not all of the restaurants adopt the same system.
When you enter a restaurant, you will find a ticket vending machine near the door. First, insert a bill or coins, and then buttons begin to light up. Choose your favourite Rāmen, toppings and side dishes if you like. As everything is written in Japanese, so here you can see the menu list in English. Please refer to it before going to Rāmen-ya.
When you finish choosing dishes and get tickets, do not forget to receive change. Find button “ おつり” (pronounced as “Otsuri”) and push it, you will get change.
Take your seat and give the tickets to a waiter / waitress or cook.
Water is free of charge. If a waiter / waitress do not serve you water, water is self-service.
When you finish dishes, you should leave as soon as possible for the people waiting in line, just saying “Gochisou sama!” to the restaurant. This phrase is used to express “Thank you” or “See you” when you leave restaurant.
The must-visit places for Rāmen beginners and lovers
Don’t miss the 2 amusement parks for Rāmen fans in Japan.
Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
Rāmen came to Japan from China in the 19th century. It was After the WW2 that our country’s Rāmen culture began to flourish. It is because Japan lost in the war so many Japanese who had lived in Chana had to come back to Japan. They began Rāmen stands everywhere. Rāmen was ideal food for people to get satisfied because those days there was serious lack of food and Rāmen was cheap to cook. As the time went by, Rāmen has been developed in many locality in many ways.
That is why the museum has nostalgic interior design based on the 50’s or 60’. There, you will find 9 selected restaurants of all Japan and some cheep sweets shop that remind Japanese people of the old days.
You need to buy ticket on machine before enjoying noodles in every restaurant. If you like to try all or as many restaurants as you like, we recommend you that you buy “Mini Rāmen ticket (ミニラーメン) ” that provides you with half or less quantity than normal size.
Cupnoodles Museum and The Instant Ramen Museum
In Yokohama and Osaka, you can make your own cup noodles. Why not try?
Design your noodle cup and select one of four kinds of soup, and then choose 4 of 12 toppings at “My Cup noodle Factory” in the museums.