Ramen is a Japanese soup-based noodle dish with thousands of variations. The most common ramen broth is tonkotsu, which is made from pork bones and meat fat with umami-rich ingredients like kombu (kelp), mushrooms, and katsuobushi (tuna flakes). Other popular ramen broths are chicken or vegetable based.
The origins of ramen in Japan can be traced back to the country’s ports, where Chinese noodle dishes were served during the Meiji period (1868-1912). While these early ramen shops used Chinese noodle recipes, they adapted them into Japanese style bowls and added their own flair by topping them with chashu, green onions and bamboo shoots.
There are many different ramen styles available in Japan and each one reflects the culture of the region it comes from. Some use different types of meats or vegetables in their stock, while others have local ingredients and toppings, creating a unique and fresh take on the dish.
Tokyo’s most popular ramen, shoyu ramen, is a clear brown color and has a deep, rich soy sauce aroma. It is often made from chicken or beef, but sometimes also consists of seafood.
Tonkotsu ramen is another well-known ramen that originated in Fukuoka but has since spread across Japan. This ramen is made from thick and hard, straight noodles in a milky white soup. It is usually topped with negi, menma and chashu.
Miso ramen, developed in Hokkaido, is one of the newest ramen broths and is considered a uniquely Japanese noodle dish. This miso-based ramen is often mixed with oily chicken or fish broth and is known for its hearty, nutty taste.
Tsukemen, which is a dipping ramen, is another popular variation. It is made by dipping the noodles into the soup broth and can be eaten hot or cold depending on how you like it.
Some ramen shops have plastic bibs that you can use to avoid staining your clothing from the dripping soup when slurping. This is an important consideration, as ramen can be hot and can cause burns on your skin if you eat it without wearing something covering your mouth.
It is also a good idea to pick up the bowl and slurp the soup. This is a good way to cool down the soup and enhance the flavor of the soup itself.
In general, ramen etiquette is casual and no set rules are firmly in place as the noodles can be consumed in any manner you like. Some restaurants will provide you with a ladle looking spoon for slurping the soup and chopsticks to hold the noodles.
Slurping the noodle is an essential part of eating ramen and most Japanese will slurp their ramen loudly to ensure that they are properly absorbed into their stomachs. This can also help to reduce the amount of salt in the noodle.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that ramen is not only delicious, but also a great source of protein and calcium. Upscale ramen shops will often serve you an egg on the side to boost your intake of these nutrients.