Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, an inexpensive lunch or a comforting meal, ramen is the perfect dish. Ramen’s popularity is global with over 100 billion bowls of instant noodles consumed every year around the world. While many people enjoy ramen in Japan, it originated in China and is now a favorite dish in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines.
The word ramen comes from the Chinese words ri (
This broth, known as tare, is what makes a good ramen. Chefs use a secret blend of soy sauce, salt, kombu (dried seaweed), niboshi (dried sardines) and other flavors to create their signature tare. This is what adds the umami, or savory taste, to the ramen.
A good tare also helps to keep the soup hot. The broth itself is usually served with sliced chashu (marinated braised pork belly) and other meats, bean sprouts, green onions, nori seaweed and yuzukosoi (sweetened dried leek). Many ramen shops offer their own special toppings or tare ingredients.
In addition to the main dish, a typical ramen-ya serves gyoza (potstickers) and karaage chicken (fried chicken wings). Gyoza is traditionally dipped in a combination of soy sauce, vinegar and rayu (“hot chili oil”). Some restaurants also serve cold appetizers such as cucumber salad and pickled mustard leaves.
The ramen-ya is also a great place to hang out with friends or colleagues and chat while enjoying your meal. You can expect loud slurping noises and splashes while eating ramen, so it is best to eat in pairs or with a group. A good ramen-ya will have several tables and a lounge area to accommodate large groups.
While there are many different types of ramen, all share the same basic ingredients. In order to have a delicious ramen, the noodle needs to be firm but chewy and the broth must have a good balance of salt and umami. The broth is typically made with pork or chicken bones, a combination of soy sauce and other seasonings and ingredients, and often includes vegetables such as cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and carrots. The noodle is usually a thin, round shape and can be plain or wavy in texture.