Ramen II

Exploring Ramen

Noodle with its Own Movie, Museum, Encyclopedia

Shio Ramen, Tonkotsu type, world's most popular paste

Shio Ramen, Tonkotsu Type

Noodle with Its Own Museum: With so many local varieties of Ramen noodles, it would take a whole museum to display the main kinds of Ramen. In fact, there is a Ramen museum. The Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum in Yokohama has exhibits showing the history and manufacture of the product, including instant Ramen.

“”Tanpopo’s hilarious. That movie’s awesome…like that movie a lot.” — Richie Nakano

The museum also serves samples in nine restaurants on premises, serving local specialties. The museum has a replica of an old downtown Tokyo street when Ramen was rapidly growing in popularity. [1]

Noodle with Its Own Movie — or Two: Ramen is really the star of Juzo Itami’s movie Tanpopo. The movie, featuring actress Nobuko Miyamoto, contains sophisticated discussions of the aesthetics and sipritual aspects of ramen and helped make ramen big time in Japanese popular culture.[2]

The movies Tanpopo and Ramen Girl have helped elevate ramen to the art form it is assuming today.

Noodle with Its Own Encyclopedia: Ramen expert Takashi Yagihashi has authored an encyclopedic cookbook on the genre, which can serve as a sort of handbook for Asian pasta cooks. [3]

Ramen in Asia: At first, ramen was exported from Japan or made by Japanese companies in other Asian countries.  Ramen has taken on local identities and styles — in China, Korea, Indonesia, the Malay region, and even India, where ramen with an Indian flavor has become popular [4]

Ramen Worldwide: People all over the world are now eating ramen at a rapidly growing rate.  Ramen has become truly an international food.  It is seen as a cheap, tasty and nutritious food for the masses, especially in the Third World. [5]

In its more elegant hand-pulled varieties, ramen still enjoys the favor of elites in many countries and a number of master chefs have built reputations on making high quality varieties of ramen.

Ramen for the Masses: In its more inexpensive and machine-produced varieties, ramen is an inexpensive food for the masses, especially in Third World Asia and other low income areas.  It has been helpful in cases of emergency and disaster, due to its shelf-stable nature, enabling famine relief after foods in China and other countries.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a special interest in ramen as a food resource, which has helped improve nutrition standards worldwide. [6]

Nutritional Aspects: According to the FAO, instant ramen can be a useful source of Vitamin A and other nutrients. However, as its broth is often very salty, people concerned about sodium levels in their diet need to be careful about ramen. One possible solution is to avoid drinking the broth and only eat the noodles and toppings, which have much less salt.

Ramen Masterpieces and Master Chefs: In the hands of a master chef, ramen can rise to the level of high cuisine.  A number of master chefs have  built reputations on their work with ramen.

In San Francisco, Ritchie Nakano of Hapa Ramen is often described as making the best ramen in that food-driven city.  He focuses on using natural and organic local ingredients and using modern technology to prepare it, such as a sous-vide technique for the added eggs. [7]

Also in America, Takashi Yagihashi, a chef from Japan, has founded his Slurping Turtle restaurant with a focus on ramen and other noodle dishes, and also authored a comprehensive book on the subject. [8]

Starting in the United Kingdom, chef Alan Yau founded his Wagamama restaurant focused on ramen, which now has more than 100 branches worldwide.[9]

Also in the United Kingdom, chef Kensuke Yamada started Tonkotsu ramen bar in London’s Soho district to showcase especially the Tonkotsu style of ramen.  One of Nobu’s leading chefs is preparing to open another ramen boutique in Soho. The future appears bright for upscale ramen establishments. [10]

Ramen in the Future: Instant ramen is already a multi-billion dollar industry, and demand is forecast to increase at a healthy rate through at least 2017, according to some recent forecasts.

In ramen, a simple fast food with mass appeal has drawn the attention of master chefs to create masterpieces.  The future for ramen appears full of promise, both at the most basic end and at the refined pinnacle of the pyramid.

Cambridge and Ramen: Ramen has even drawn the attention of academics.  Scholar Barak Kushner, who teaches Japanese history at Cambridge University, has recently published Slurp!, which gives a history of the development and an explanation of ramen’s rise worldwide. [11]

Santoka Ramen Stand

Ramen Stand

For Further Information:

[1] Shin Yokohama Raumen Museum —   http://www.raumen.co.jp/ramen/
[2] Tanpopo movie —   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000GG4RMU/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=15193853197&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=18486614031271836342&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_9r58886981_b
[3] Takashi’s Noodles ––   http://www.amazon.com/Takashis-Noodles-Takashi-Yagihashi/dp/1580089658
[4] Worldwide popularity and spread of ramen — Kids Web Japan — http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/hitech/ramen/index.html
[5] Instant Noodles: A Multi-Billion Dollar Industry —     http://www.instant-ramen.net/2009/01/instant-noodles-a-multi-billion-dollar-industry/
[6] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Codex Alimentarius Commission, summary of report on instant noodle standard —  http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CD0QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.codexalimentarius.org%2Finput%2Fdownload%2Freport%2F420%2FAl03_15e.pdf&ei=APuzUJfJM4ijqQGazYHYAg&usg=AFQjCNGig3bm70M9GLI2lYZ8qISMYUb1pw&sig2=yTXVxHpVlzxxoCZ-gwlRpw
[7] Ritchie Nakano, Hapa Ramen —   http://haparamensf.com/
[8] Takashi Yagihashi —  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takashi_Yagihashi
[9] Alan Yau, Wagamama —   http://alanyau.cn/wagamama.html
[10] Kensuke Yamada and Tonkotsu – Tim Hayward, “Oodles of noodles,” Financial Times, October 20-21, 2012. —   http://alanyau.cn/wagamama.html
[11] Barak Kushner and Slurp!–   http://www.brill.com/slurp-social-and-culinary-history-ramen-japans-favorite-noodle-soup


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