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A bowl of steaming ramen can surely lift anybody's mood and bring good memories for the day. The search for that one great bowl of ramen is a popular thought in Japan and around the globe. With this kind of concern, it sure is a must in any tourist's vacation to-do list to find the best spot for a tasty ramen bowl. However, let us first learn some of the basics in preparing these ramen noodles, and then check on some top ramen restaurants to see on your next trip.
Even though this famous noodle soup dish is considered as fast food, there is a distinct practice that Japanese masters keep alive in creating their best bowl of ramen. Besides that, wherever we travel, we see the deep connection of the culinary traditions to culture and history. This culinary wonder is the same case in Japan. Despite not having a record of the first ramen, it is no secret that Japanese people have enjoyed this savory dish for a long time. The different ramen flavors are connected to the long history of the country.
It's in the broth
At present, the famous ramen has gone into various adjustments that try to engage any individual's palate. The modern variations of serving have gone to a great range from the different broths, noodle type, and even eating these delicious treats.
Keep in mind that even with these variations, the distinct flavor of Japan's rich culinary scene takes center stage. Even if you wish to eat your ramen cold and with a dipping sauce, or with that warm and familiar soup, there sure is going to be one for you.
Shio (塩) ramen means it is a salt broth-based ramen which has a light flavor. This type of broth is the traditional and most basic type of this famous dish. When you order this one, you will receive a very light-colored soup. However, do not be deceived as the broth is still a tasty one as its base is made from salt, seaweed, chicken, vegetables, and fish.
Shoyu (醤油) ramen is a soy sauce broth-based ramen, which is the most common type of this noodle dish and usually the go-to broth used in a different restaurant. Should you order ramen in a Japanese restaurant but did not request any specific broth type, then you will most likely get a shoyu ramen.
The soy sauce in this one gives the ramen a rich flavor that even though it may seem salty at first, there is the distinct kick combined with the other ingredients used in making the base.
Almost similar to the preparation of a shio base, the shoyu broth is made from vegetable, chicken, and a fair amount of soy sauce.
Who wants to take a sip of the steaming soup filled with the flavors of pork bones? If you wish to have that hearty taste, tonkotsu (博多) ramen is the one for you. At first glance, you would see its distinct color, which is not the clearest broth among the other types of ramen. However, do not worry as this was brought by hours of boiling down pork meat and bones. The tonkotsu ramen, after all, is a pork bone broth-based ramen.
There are a lot of varieties under this one. You may expect to have a light and smooth to thick and rich soup, so do not confuse it with the next type of ramen even if you may get a milky consistency for your next tonkotsu bowl.
Miso (味噌) ramen is an interesting one for any tourist who wishes to taste authentic Japanese ramen. This miso ramen has a fermented Japanese soy paste (miso) broth base. If you are unfamiliar with this soybean base, you may be up for a surprising treat, which creates a creamy texture to your soup. It may even taste like cheese and nuts.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many restaurants across Japan use their own miso. With this, there could be a wide range of miso flavors to explore from white miso, soybean miso, rice miso, charred miso, red miso, and even barley miso. As the variety offers people a unique culinary experience, it is no surprise that miso ramen is the most well-loved type of ramen in different parts of the globe.
As varieties of ramen develop around the globe, there is this tsukemen (つけ麺). It is relatively new in comparison to the broth-based types of ramen presented earlier in this article. This dish is similar to another famous Japanese cuisine, zaru soba (ざるそば), which is a popular summer meal to cool down.
Tsukemen is a dipping ramen type where the noodles and the broth are served separately. You can order the thick soup hot or cold and enjoy dipping the portion of your noodles into the soup. Even with its relatively new place among the forms of ramen, tsukemen has become popular in numerous areas and restaurants in Asia and the rest of the world. It even boasts of having an abundant soup variety that will delight any customer who wishes to order this unique ramen.
After knowing about the different broths and forms of ramen, let us also check on the variety of toppings that come together with our noodles. As we appreciate the delicate process in creating the ramen soup, the toppings put extra flavors to our ramen experience. Traditionally, only a few are used when serving as the main focus of the ramen dish is the noodles.
Nori is also known as the thin, edible seaweed sheets that are cut into small strips and placed on the side of our ramen bowl. If you have never tried eating one of these, do not fret as you can try dipping them in the soup first so you would not feel too surprised with its crunchy texture. Also, keep in mind that this is the same nori used for sushi, so if you are a sushi fan, you would also enjoy this topping in your ramen.
Boiled eggs are a common ramen noodles companion. The way these eggs are prepared vary across the different forms of ramen as well. For instance, you may get a hard-boiled egg for your tonkotsu ramen while a soft-boiled one for your miso ramen. These boiled eggs are not your typical homemade ones as these are seasons in a special sauce that each ramen restaurant prepare themselves.
Adding sliced scallions give off that flavorful touch, which also treats your sense of smell for that distinct fresh aroma. In some regions, it is common to use scallions. However, for some, you may get leeks instead. Either one provides a great complement to the rich broth that each ramen bowl has.
Chashu (チャーシュー) may be associated with its Chinese counterpart, char siu (叉燒). However, the Japanese adopted this cuisine yet made it their own by using their distinct technique in cooking these slices of pork meat.
Having chashu as a ramen topping is sure to bring you that high as these sliced pieces of meat that are seasoned with soy sauce help enhance your ramen flavor. It is even best to let the meat simmer in the broth if you can wait that long. If not, no problem as they are a wonderful treat on their own.