What would you eat when you visit Japan?
I have heard a lot of people from other countries would eat ramen when they visit Japan. I was really pleased to hear that because I am a Japanese and I also love ramen so much! However, even though ramen has become so popular around the world, I guess not many people actually know what ramen in Japan is. So as a Japanese I would like to briefly explain what kind of dish ramen is.
Every ramen has 3 components: noodle, soup, and toppings. Let’s discuss one by one.
The noodle used for ramen is Chinese noodle and it is different from other noodles which are used for other dishes such as spaghetti. Chinese noodle requires brine water, a solution of alkaline salt containing sodium carbonate and kalium carbonate as major ingredients, and the water gives the noodle a special texture and makes it curly. The texture is chewy and curled noodle can hold a lot of soup so you can easily feel the taste of the soup when you have the noodle in your mouth, which makes you want to eat ramen without cease.
Noodle used for ramen has 2 types: thick one and thin one. Thick noodle has strong chewy texture so you can enjoy it. It is often used with thick soup such as miso ramen.
Thin noodle can hold more amount of soup than thick one so you can mainly enjoy the taste of the soup. It often used with soup with comparatively light taste such as shoyu ramen and tonkotsu ramen.
The soup is basically a bit greasy and there are many sorts of soup used for ramen and the flavour of ramen mainly depends on what kind of soup is used. Soup used for ramen basically contains a lot of broth so it tastes really rich. Broth used for ramen soup is different from store to store.
Shoyu ramen (which is soy sauce flavour) and Tonkotsu ramen ( which is pork bone flavour) are the most typical kinds of ramen I think but there are other kinds of ramen such as shio ramen (which is light broth taste), miso ramen (which is soybean paste flavour),and tantanmen (which is so spicy).
Noodle and soup mainly determine what the ramen is like, but some other ingredients are put into ramen. In some ramen shops you can customize the toppings as you like.
Roast pork, green onion (or other kinds of vegetables), and seasoned boiled egg are the most typical kinds of topping so basically you can have them in any ramen shop. We call roast pork used for ramen Chah-shu and it is incredibly delicious!
Did you understand ramen in Japan? Styles of Ramen I explained above are very typical ones in Japan. There are a lot of ramen shops which have their own ramen styles so I recommend you to actually come to Japan and go on a trip to find your best ramen shop.