(Photo from ramen Kamukura http://www.kamukura.co.jp/)
During the hot summer, we often had cold noodles, somen, soba or udon. However, when it becomes cooler, it is time for `ramen'. Sushi, tempura and sukiyaki are thought to be typical Japanese quisine but most loved food in Japan(some people say it is our `soul food') must be ramen.
Ramen (soup-noodle dish) is wheat noodle in soup, broth based by meat or fish and flavored with salt, soy sauce or miso. There are many ramen restaurants everywhere.
At my school cafe(I went to girls' mission school), we could eat ramen for lunch. Ramen restanraunts are very competitive industry and they all compete by original broth to catch more customers. Tonkotsu ramen, ` pork bone broth ramen' have thick (kotteri) and more greasy soup, it seems many men like this type of broth. There are more lighter (assari) broth too. Topping can be any thing-boiled egg is everyone's favorite, and chashu(cooked sliced pork) is popular topping also. On cold days, when you like to warm yourself, having a bowl of ramen can make us warm and happy!
Recently we heard the news- there is a `ramen boom' in NY. Not only in NY but also at other big cities too, you can find ramen restaurants! They even have `ramen map' also. Acoording to the article by Nikkei Trendy Net(Economy web magazine), there are more than 60 ramen restaurants in state of NY and around NY and the number is increasing rapidlly. This is the restaurant which has been said to sparkle this boom.
The chef of this restanrant is David Chang, a Korean who has worked at a ramen restaurant in Japan, after he graduated from College. He arranged the broth by adding bacon and also Pork bun for side menu and it seemed his restaurant is very popular. He has received James Beard Award(which is like Oscar for food business.HIs restaurants have glassed-in entrance, so people outside can see peole in the restaurant who are having hot ramen with tasty broth. When it is cold, the sight must be very tempting! In Japan, after having drinking party, going to ramen restaurants is often the routine. It is hard to describe what ramen taste like, there are so much variety of broth.
We all know, taking noise when you eat is a bad manner, but as far as ramen is concerned( maybe soba noodle also), slurp is what we do and we believe it is the best way to taste ramen, the noodle with the broth taste.
Ramen is NOT a fancy food at all, it is a casual and inexpensive food, and hearing ramen is becoming a boom in other countries was a nice surprise.
I found another video from Boston- young college students waiting in a long que for ramen:
Is it true? Seeing ramen becoming popular makes us surprised (and happy of course).
For us, taste of ramen is familiar, and always around. It is comforting, familiar taste for us but we had not realized, people in other countries too like this taste.
Tonight (it was a National Holiday here), there was a special TV program, two guys travelled African countries by setting temporary ramen restaurants, stopping by villages and towns. They drove a shabby small truck which became a ramen stand. They arranged the broth and topping according to where they went (for example, they added cheese flavor or tomato sauce flavor, and fried chiken as topping and so on). They were at first very nervous and worried, whether people in Africa would like the taste. We too were suspicious and were curious, and seeing many people smiling and emptying bowls, we to became very happy. (Of course there may be some `set up' for this program) but still seeing people enjoying ramen was a nice scene to see.
Here, you can see the digest of this program:
They started from Cape of Good Hope and going through Nambia to Rundu the city of border with Angola.
Ramen is a typical class B gurmet, food. The photo on the top is from one of the ramen chain restaurant called Kamukura(There is one near our place too). They have comparatively light soup and have menu with vegetables. At ramen restaurants, you can see all the generation, enjoying together.
This is a bit old movie but you may have heard of the Japanese movie, `Tampopo'.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampopo)We hope you enjoy this scene-it is a comedy, there is no rule about eating ramen, just enjoy!