Fasten your seatbelts for a quick trip through the history of ramen as we start our tale in the distant past! It begins in China in the 1800s, which is regarded as the cradle of all things ramen. With the Meijiichin [Meiji Restoration] in 1868, Chinese immigrants brought the concept of noodles in a soupy broth to Japan in the late 19th or early 20th century. Chinatowns like the one in Yokohama, a bustling port city that contributed to ramen’s appeal in Japan, sprang up as soon as people arrived there.
Ramen has gained enormous popularity as a traditional Japanese meal, and you can now find Ramen restaurants in practically any place in the world. Several of them sell premium Ramen, which often costs $20 each bowl. You could be left wondering why Ramen is so pricey and what it actually is as a result. And Where does ramen come from?
History of ramen
Yowaken was the first Japanese restaurant to serve a bowl of noodles resembling modern ramen in 1884, but Rairaiken, Japan’s first ramen establishment, didn’t open until 1910.
The globally renowned Hakata tonkotsu Ramen was then accidentally created in Fukuoka in 1947. When restaurant cooks overboil the soup, the pig broth becomes extremely milky and white. But after tasting it, they realized they had discovered something special, and Hakata tonkotsu broth was the result.
Regional varieties of ramen began to appear, with Ajino Sanpei in Sapporo, Hokkaido in the north of Japan, being the first ramen shop to produce miso ramen, which is now almost as closely associated with Hokkaido as snowboarding.
After the war, bread and wheat consumption in Japan soared, and wheat was used to make ramen noodles. By 1950, yatai, or outdoor street vendors, had proliferated across towns and cities, providing workers with a fast hot meal at all hours of the day and night. These yatai were increasingly serving ramen noodles.
The development of instant noodles in 1958 by Momofuku Ando, the Taiwanese-Japanese creator of Nissin Foods, was a significant turning point for aficionados of ramen. This made it possible for everyone to quickly prepare this soul cuisine at home.
During the 1980s, ramen was becoming increasingly famous not just in Japan but also internationally as the busy employees of the booming decade needed a short break. Soon, ramen joined sushi, sake, and matcha as one of Japan’s most well-known foods.
Around this period, a growing number of regional ramen variants were developed and spread throughout Japan. From miso and tonkotsu to salt “Shio,” soy “Shoyu,” and many other varieties! Let’s learn about the various origin, antecedent, and toppings histories of the various regional ramens.
Different kinds of Ramen Soup
Ramen soup broths come in four basic varieties: Shio, Shoyu, Miso, and Tonkotsu. All of the ramen have distinctive flavors and come from various parts of Japan.
The most fundamental and traditional style of ramen soup is called shio ramen. It has a very mild flavor and is a transparent soup that has been salted.
Shoyu Ramen: Soy sauce serves as the foundation of this dark soup. The soup is typically cooked with chicken, but it can also contain other types of meat, such pork, but this typically varies by location.
Hokkaido is a popular location to find miso ramen. It has a miso (soybean paste) taste and is frequently served with butter or corn on top.
Tonkotsu Ramen: Hakata, Fukuoka is where Tonkotsu ramen first appeared. The rich and creamy soup is produced from the bones of pigs.
So, where does ramen come from?
Ramen is a noodle meal, to put it simply. You presumably already knew that. Although it is now thought to be uniquely Japanese, its origins are in fact Chinese. Let’s investigate these roots’ historical context.
A significant number of Chinese immigrants immigrated in Japan during the Meiji Period (1869–1912). They brought recipes for noodles from home with them.
These noodle dish recipes were modified by chefs to suit regional preferences. Eventually, they started adding kelp and dried fish. In other words, these changes led to the creation of ramen!
In Tokyo, Rairaiken, the first ramen restaurant in history, debuted in 1910. This is generally seen as the formal beginning. If you want a historically accurate bowl, the owner of Rairaiken’s grandson still prepares ramen in Tokyo.
The Rise of Ramen: How “Chinese Noodles” Became a Japanese Favorite
Ramen, which originated in China, has recently gained popularity in Japan and has sparked fierce competition among the country’s ramen cafes. This article examines the background behind Japan’s obsession with ramen.
You frequently hear Japanese expats say things like, “When I return back to Japan, the first thing I want to eat is ramen.” The noodle dish has established itself as a staple of the country’s culinary tradition. Also, ramen chefs are always competing to elevate the dish by experimenting with fresh ingredients and tastes.
In 2013, there were over 35,000 ramen shops countrywide, or an average of 28 establishments per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the website Statistics Japan. The region with the most ramen shops per resident is Yamagata Prefecture, with Tochigi, Niigata, Akita, and Kagoshima Prefectures following. As the numbers only cover those listed in NTT telephone directories, there are likely even more stores out there.
In any event, especially in the bigger cities, you won’t have to look very far to locate a ramen shop in Japan. The majority also provide quick-serving bowls of noodles for a fair price. Ramen is viewed as a form of quick cuisine in Japan, and it may be consumed for lunch or anytime you’re feeling peckish. But there is also a sizable group of ramen otaku who are really serious about their noodles. Fortunately for them, the intense rivalry in the ramen market has produced an abundance of unique flavors and toppings for them to become fixated on.
An Unpretentious National Favorite
According to legend, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628–1701), the second ruler of the Mito domain, was the first Japanese person to consume ramen (now Ibaraki Prefecture). One story claims that Tokugawa was taught by Zhu Zhiyu (1600–82), a Confucian scholar banished from Ming China, who also gave him “Chinese noodles,” the precursor of modern ramen. The noodles, according to the records, were fashioned from a combination of wheat and lotus flour and were served in a broth. In Ibaraki, a dish with updated ingredients is marketed as “Mito domain ramen.”
The Meiji era (1868–1922) was the first time, though, that these “Chinese noodles” really started to gain popularity among Japanese diners. Noodles and soup were often served with braised pork (chsh), bamboo shoots (menma), and split-open hard-boiled eggs in Chinese eateries across Yokohama. Ramen is sometimes referred as as Chinese soba (chka soba) in Japan because to its roots.
Following World War II, Chinese refugees started selling ramen across the nation, and it quickly overtook Japanese curry as a beloved, straightforward cuisine. Ramen was embraced as a cheap and delicious meal offered from street vendors during that turbulent time when food was in short supply. These little kiosks grew into businesses, which spread quickly throughout Japan.
Since there are now so many stores, there is fierce rivalry, which has given rise to numerous new varieties of ramen, including upmarket versions with crab or lobster on top that can cost up to 10,000 (approximately $100) each bowl. On the other hand, some chains provide ramen for as cheap as 300 yen (about $3). Ramen is fundamentally a cheap, tasty, and fast cuisine, notwithstanding the rare pricey bowl, and most cooks work to provide the maximum variation possible within those limitations.
Overall, we have seen where ramen comes from, its varied history and origin, and how it has evolved from a simple snack food to a worldwide phenomenon. Ramen can be served in numerous different ways and styles, each country developing its own distinct flavors. It is almost impossible to imagine today’s world without ramen being part of the culinary landscape, this delicious noodle soup beloved by so many around the globe. As its popularity continues to steadily rise, we can expect new flavor creations and innovations to arrive on our tables. Let’s embrace the journey that takes us through the past and present of this iconic Japanese dish!
Ramen has been beloved by many cultures all around the world and it is a cuisine that truly unites us. From the Chinese noodles, to the Japanese ramen we know of today, this dish has held strong throughout centuries and continues to be shared among all with love. All of the ingredients in it add something special – from its rich broth to the type of noodles that are used – that make ramen something truly magical. Ramen has transcended borders and classes, bringing together people from all walks of life. If you’re looking to share this joy with friends or family, why not give cooking ramen at home a try? It might just become your new favorite dish! Of course if you don’t feel comfortable trying it yourself, then reach out to us for help! Our team of experienced chefs would gladly take part in crafting a delicious bowl of authentic ramen for you and your loved ones. Contact us at Angelo’s Burgers today and let’s get started on a culinary journey you’ll never forget!