The Japanese first tasted ramen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Chinese immigrants migrated to the country. As a major industrial and colonial power, Japan had an abundance of Asian immigrants. A ramen shop opened in Asakusa, Tokyo in 1910. Its Japanese owner hired twelve Cantonese immigrants to prepare ramen for his customers. The broths vary in flavor and include a variety of ingredients, such as fish, chicken, and vegetables.
To prepare ramen soup, fill a large saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a rapid simmer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and remove them using a slotted spoon. Once cooled, cut them lengthwise. Divide the noodles among four deep bowls and top with the egg halves. Pour hot broth over the noodles and top with the egg halves. Toppings can include fried onions and bamboo shoots. To add flavor to the broth, drizzle the noodles with oil.
Toppings can be simple or flashy, depending on the type of soup. Common toppings include chashu, green onions, menma, and seaweed, along with the prized ajitsuke tamago. However, if you’re adventurous, you can make your own rayu sauce. Toppings are optional and can be found at most Asian markets. Many restaurants will let you accessorize the ramen bowls with various toppings if you so desire.
Ramen has many regional variations, and chefs spend their lives perfecting the art of making it. Regardless of your taste, it’s important to visit different parts of Japan to discover the best ramen. A JR Pass will allow you unlimited travel on Japan’s domestic train system. With this pass, you’ll have the option of eating ramen from various regions and tasting regional variations. And while you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a JR Pass.
The legends of ramen are fascinating. In one version, a Chinese prisoner advised a Japanese lord to create a ramen broth from the ingredients in China. In another version, a noodle soup adapted from the Chinese dish “lamian” is said to have been introduced to Japan centuries ago. Regardless of the legend, ramen is a part of Japanese food culture. So, ramen is no longer a cheap and humble noodle dish. It has become a gourmet food in its own right.
The broth of ramen is a secret weapon for ramen chefs. It imparts the soup with a unique saltiness and umami taste. Its many ingredients – including pork bones, vegetables, and fish – contribute to the flavor and body of the soup. They also help strengthen the immune system of the stomach. The ramen broths come in different colors and personalities. There are clear broths and white soups. The latter broths are thicker and contain a richer flavor and are cooked to a higher temperature, while the former are clearer.
Most ramen restaurants have a ticket machine so that customers can place their order quickly. The top-left button will be the house special. The machine will spit out tickets, which you can then place on the counter or hand to the staff. A bowl of ramen can cost from Y=800 to Y=1,300, which is roughly $7.50 to $12 depending on the toppings. A JR pass is a good idea if you plan on eating ramen in Japan.