Friday, August 12, 2011

Japanese Menu - Ramen

Menu Taste and Personal Experience:


Chashu Ramen
The first thing that comes to my mind when talking about ramen is …. OISHIII!!! It’s bloody delicious and one of my top picks for Japanese food. Since I like spicy food, I always add some chilli flakes or chilli pepper to “enhance” the taste. I’ve tried it at different countries like Australia, Indonesia and Japan itself. All of them taste superb (varies in taste and toppings) but the best one I’ve tasted is the one at Japan (but of course), at Shinjuku area. My friend took me to one of the ramen-ya and I ate the tonkotsu soup ramen with chashu (and yes I had secondsJ).

If we’re talking about cup ramen (instant ramen) then my favorite would be the Korean made cup ramen “Shin Ramyun Hot & Spicy”. I ate it quite often for breakfast or even for dinner when I am too lazy to prepare my meal.

I’ve never actually made ramen myself and would be interested to make it in the near future.

Menu Description:


Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork ,dried seaweed, kamaboko, green onions, and occasionally corn. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.

Ramen is of Chinese origin, however it is unclear when ramen was introduced to Japan. Even the etymology of the word ramen is a topic of debate. One theory is that ramen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese (la mian), meaning "hand-pulled noodles." A second theory proposes (laomian, "old noodles") as the original form, while another states that ramen was initially (lǔmiàn), noodles cooked in a thick, starchy sauce. A fourth theory is that the word derives from (lāomiàn, "lo mein"), which in Cantonese means to "stir", and the name refers to the method of preparation by stirring the noodles with a sauce.

Until the 1950s, ramen was called shina soba (literally "Chinese buckwheat noodle") but today chūka soba (also meaning "Chinese buckwheat noodle") or just Ramen are more common, as the word (shina, meaning "China") is considered offensive by many.

By 1900, restaurants serving Chinese cuisine from Canton and Shanghai offered a simple ramen dish of noodles (cut rather than hand pulled), a few toppings, and a broth flavored with salt and pork bones. Many Chinese also pulled portable food stalls, selling ramen and gyōza dumplings to workers. By the mid 1900s, these stalls used a type of a musical horn called a charumera (from the Portuguese charamela) to advertise their presence, a practice some vendors still retain via a loudspeaker and a looped recording. By the early Shōwa period, ramen had become a popular dish when eating out.

After World War II, cheap flour imported from the U.S. swept the Japanese market. At the same time, millions of Japanese troops had returned from China and continental East Asia. Many of these returnees had become familiar with Chinese cuisine and subsequently set up Chinese restaurants across Japan. Eating ramen, while popular, was still a special occasion that required going out.

Korean Shin Ramyun Cup
In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, the Taiwanese-Japanese founder and chairman of Nissin Foods, now run by his son Koki Ando. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water.

Beginning in the 1980s, ramen became a Japanese cultural icon and was studied around the world from many perspectives. At the same time, local varieties of ramen were hitting the national market and could even be ordered by their regional names. A ramen museum opened in Yokohama in 1994.

A wide variety of ramen exists in Japan, with geographical and vendor-specific differences even in varieties that share the same name. Ramen can be broadly categorized by its two main ingredients: noodles and broth.


Most noodles are made from four basic ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui, which is essentially a type of alkaline mineral water, containing sodium carbonate and usually potassium carbonate, as well as sometimes a small amount of phosphoric acid. Originally, kansui was named after the water from Inner Mongolia's Lake Kan which contained large amounts of these minerals and was said to be perfect for making these noodles. Making noodles with kansui lends them a yellowish hue as well as a firm texture. For a brief time after World War II, low-quality tainted kansui was sold, though kansui is now manufactured according to JAS standards. Eggs may also be substituted for kansui. Some noodles are made with neither eggs nor kansui and should only be used for yakisoba.

Ramen noodles come in various shapes and lengths. They may be fat, thin, or even ribbon-like, as well as straight or wrinkled.

Ramen soup is generally made from stock based on chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes), niboshi (dried baby sardines), beef bones, shiitake, and onions, and then flavored with salt, miso, or soy sauce. Other styles that have emerged later on include curry ramen and other flavors.

The resulting combination is generally divided into four categories (although new and original variations often make this categorisation less clear-cut):

  1. Shio ("salt") ramen is probably the oldest of the four and is a pale, clear, yellowish broth made with plenty of salt and any combination of chicken, vegetables, fish, and seaweed. Occasionally pork bones are also used, but they are not boiled as long as they are for tonkotsu ramen, so the soup remains light and clear. Chāshū is sometimes swapped for lean chicken meatballs, and pickled plums and kamaboko are popular toppings as well. Noodle texture and thickness varies among shio ramen, but they are usually straight rather than curly.
  1. Tonkotsu ("pork bone"; not to be confused with tonkatsu) ramen usually has a cloudy white colored broth. It is similar to the Chinese baitang and has a thick broth made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours, which suffuses the broth with a hearty pork flavor and a creamy consistency that rivals milk or melted butter or gravy (depending on the shop). Most shops, but not all, blend this pork broth with a small amount of chicken and vegetable stock and/or soy sauce. The noodles are thin and straight, and it is often served with beni shoga (pickled ginger). Currently the latest trend in tonkotsu toppings is māyu, a blackish, aromatic oil made from either charred crushed garlic or Sesame seeds. It is a specialty of Kyūshū, particularly Hakata-ku, Fukuoka (hence sometimes called "Hakata ramen").
  1. Shōyu ("soy sauce") ramen typically has a brown and clear color broth, based on a chicken and vegetable (or sometimes fish or beef) stock with plenty of soy sauce added resulting in a soup that’s tangy, salty, and savory yet still fairly light on the palate. Shōyu ramen usually has curly noodles rather than straight ones, but this is not always the case. It is often adorned with marinated bamboo shoots or menma, green onions, kamaboko (fish cakes), nori (seaweed), boiled eggs, bean sprouts and/or black pepper; occasionally the soup will also contain chili oil or Chinese spices, and some shops serve sliced beef instead of the usual chāshū.
    Karaage Miso Ramen
  1. Miso ramen is a relative newcomer, having reached national prominence around 1965. This uniquely Japanese ramen, which was developed in Hokkaido, features a broth that combines copious amounts of miso and is blended with oily chicken or fish broth – and sometimes with tonkotsu or lard – to create a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and very hearty soup. Miso ramen broth tends to have a robust, tangy flavor, so it stands up to a variety of flavorful toppings: spicy bean paste or tōbanjan, butter and corn, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, ground pork, cabbage, sesame seeds, white pepper, and chopped garlic are common. The noodles are typically thick, curly, and slightly chewy.
Seasonings commonly added to ramen are black pepper, butter, chili pepper, sesame seeds, and crushed garlic. Soup recipes and methods of preparation tend to be closely guarded secrets.

Some restaurants also offer a system known as kae-dama, where customers who have finished their noodles can request a "refill" (for a few hundred yen more) to be put into their remaining soup.

Regional variations

  • Tokyo-style ramen 
  • Kitakata ramen 
  • Hakata ramen with tonkotsu soup 
  • Tsukemen dipping ramen 
  • Aburasoba oiled noodles 
  • Takayama ramen 
  • Hiyashi (chilled) ramen 
  • Butter corn ramen, a Hokkaido speciality 
  • Zaru ramen 
Restaurants in Japan

Varieties of restaurants like izakaya drinking establishments, karaoke halls, and amusement parks offer ramen - but the best quality ramen is usually only available in ramen-ya restaurants. These restaurants generally boast of 10 to 20 seats at a bar and three or four tables.

The menus in ramen-ya restaurants offer mainly ramen dishes, so they lack much variety. Besides ramen, some of the dishes generally available in a ramen-ya restaurant include fried rice (called Chahan or Yakimeshi), Gyōza (Chinese dumplings), and beer.

Ramen vending machine

Ramen Xpress Vending Machine
The "Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum" is a unique museum about ramen. In a gallery on the first floor, the museum presents the history of ramen in Japan, including the big success of instant ramen. It displays the variety of noodles, soups, toppings and bowls used across Japan, and shows how the noodles are made. On the two basement floors, visitors can explore a 1:1 replica of some streets and houses of Shitamachi, the old town of Tokyo, circa 1958, when the popularity of ramen was rapidly increasing. Nine ramen restaurants can be found there, each featuring a ramen dish from a different region of Japan. For visitors who wish to try multiple ramen dishes, the restaurants offer "mini ramen" small portions. Tickets for the meals are purchased at vending machines in front of each restaurant before entering.

Canned version

In Akihabara, vending machines distribute warm ramen in an aluminum can, known as ramen can. It is produced by a popular ramen restaurant and contains noodles, soup, menma, and pork. It is intended as a quick snack, and includes a small folded plastic fork. There are few kinds of flavor such as tonkotsu and curry.

Miso Ramen with Chashu


Menu Ingredients:

 (Makes 1 servings )


  • ½  tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½  tbsp minced garlic
  • ½  tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • ½  tbsp sugar
  • ½ tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 - 4 chashu (braised pork) (sliced) – see below recipe on how to cook chashu
  • 1 sliced narutomaki
  • Dried seaweed/kelp
  • Scallions/spring onion (sliced) as desired
  • Bamboo shoots as desired
  • Bean sprouts as desired
  • Cabbaged (chopped) as desired
  • Carrot (strips) as desired
  • ½ boiled egg
  • Dried/Powdered chilli to taste
  • 1 package of chukamen/ramen noodles

    Menu Directions:


    1. Heat skillet/pan and put the oil in.
    2. Add minced garlic and ginger until the golden brown
    3. Add water into the skillet.
    4. Add chicken powder, sugar, pepper and soy sauce
    5. After the soup is boiling, add miso paste and stir well.
    6. After everything is mixed well, stop the heat.
    7. In another pot, bring some water to boil.
    8. Put the noodles into the boiling water and cook following the directions on the package (until the noodle attained the desired texture)
    9. Drain the noodles and serve into noodle bowls.
    10. Pour soup over the noodles.
    11. Arrange toppings as desired and serve.

      Japanese Chashu 


      Menu Ingredients:

      • 300 gr pork belly
      • 3/4 C water
      • 1 Tbs sugar
      • 1 Tbs miso
      • 2 Tbs soy sauce
      • 2 Tbs mirin
      • 2 Tbs sake
      • 1 piece of ginger sliced
      • 2 cloves garlic smashed
      • 12 white pepper corns

        Menu Directions:


        1. Roll the pork belly (outer part is the fat/skin) and tie with cotton threads if needed
        2. In a pot, combine all ingredients and stir well
        3. Put the rolled pork belly into the skillet
        4. Close the lid and let the pork belly simmer under low heat for 1 hour or more. The longer you let it simmer, the tastier it will get. Pierce the pork with fork/knife to check the tenderness.
        5. After simmering, take out the pork belly. Let it cool down for sometime.
        6. After cooled down, cut the threads if you’re using them and slice the pork into thin slices and serve

        Menu Related Videos:

        Shibuya Ramen:

        4.9kg Ramen Contest:

        Ramen Robot:

        Menu Sources and References:


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