Although many people have discovered ramen in a cheap instant format, the noodle dish has a lot more to offer. Japan-Guide points out that the soup actually originated in China, although ramen-ya (ramen restaurants) have exploded in popularity in Japan since its introduction. The Guardian even refers to some cities, like Fukuoka, as ramen towns, thanks to its 2,000 ramen-ya locations. Although there are countless versions, ramen basically consists of a seasoning (tare), broth, noodles, and toppings.
The broth can be made from different bases such as soy sauce (shoyu), soybeans (miso), pork bone (tonkotsu), or salt (shio), according to Japan-Guide. In traditional establishments, the broth continues to be regenerated and is never allowed to be fully consumed. In fact, The Guardian reports that the broth of a ramen-ya in Kurume had been simmering for 60 years!
The noodles are usually wheat-based, although variations in elasticity and thickness are common. Mental Floss explains that ramen noodles are unique for their alkaline pH level, which prevents them from dissolving or becoming too soft in the hot broth. Meat lovers will appreciate the large chunks of braised pork that top the noodle soup, and corn, seaweed, bamboo, eggs, tofu and bean sprouts are common extras. It’s hard to imagine a dish as physically and spiritually nourishing as a bowl of ramen overflowing with hearty ingredients. Be sure to let your inner child have fun – sipping is encouraged.