Hello, hello loves!~
A while back, I had a post and guide on Valentines’ Day chocolate. There seemed to be alot of positive feedback with that post. BAYOG is always looking for new and diverse content for you guys. With the BAYOG boys’ permission and support, I thought I would start doing “Anime Foods IRL” posts! Just every now and then haha~ As you all know, I know and love food. (((o(*°▽°*)o)))
The idea behind these posts will be some info about the foods we often see in anime, manga, and dramas. And if I can, I’ll also show you how to make said foods! That being said, this first Anime Foods IRL post will be on ramen! It’s a classic food that’s been featured in so many series and things. This post will be focused more on the history and types of ramen. The next one will be a cooking based part. What exactly is ramen? It’s basically a type of Japanese soup with Chinese style noodles. Ramen is believed to be a Japanese variation of the Chinese lamian (拉麵). The popular instant stuff came around in the late 1950s by Ando Momofuku. It was market under his company Nissin. The noodles were flash fried and gave it a longer shelf life than frozen noodles. However, it was still considered somewhat of a luxury item back then. The reason being that fresh noodles had cost a fraction of the cost at the time. In the 1970s, Nissin brought out the iconic Cup Noodle.
I still can’t bring myself to finish this game…
Many people are used to seeing and knowing only the cheap instant ramen. I shit you not, I once heard someone shitting on the idea of an authentic ramen restaurant. She thought it was a scam to be charged so much for an extra fancy version of the “cheap college food”. But, it’s the other way around. The “fancy” ramen, are the original ramen. It’s ramen as it was meant to be. Instant stuff was made later out of convenience. We’re all familiar with instant noodles (like Nissin Cup Ramen) that varies in flavors like chicken, shrimp, beef, and vegetables. You see, real ramen can be seen almost as an art form. Real and authentic ramen has a process and takes (quite alot of) time. This is particularly for the soup. Ingredients such as stock (chicken, pork, beef, or vegetables), kombu (kelp), animal bones, and aromatics (onions, garlic, mushrooms, ginger, etc) are put into a pot and may be simmered for hours. Yes, HOURS. A good stock may take several hours, maybe a whole day, to make. You can think of it as the main body of ramen. There are other components too, such as tare (liquid seasoning/accent that adds the saltiness to the ramen). There are also many different options for toppings such as veggies, meat, seasoned boiled eggs, kamaboko/narutomaki (fish cake), sesame seeds, and nori (dried laver/seaweed).
There are so many varieties and flavors of ramen. These are your basic categories.
Tonkotsu – Pork bone based broth. It’s cooked with the pork bones and fat, which are simmered for several hours. This gives the soup a cloudy color and a thick, creamy consistency. This is due to the collagen from the bones which makes it so hearty. Yes, it may sound gross. I assure you that it’s incredibly delicious. Tonkotsu is my absolute favorite ramen~
Shoyu – Soy sauce based broth. Apparently it’s the oldest type of ramen, so the OG ramen. It’s a clear brown broth. It’s usually a chicken or vegetable based broth with plenty of soy sauce.
Shio – Salt based broth. It’s a pale and clear-ish broth. Bones are sometimes used, though it’s not cooked as long as the ones in tonkotsu.
Miso – Miso based broth. Apparently this one is relatively new in terms of ramen history. Supposedly it came around in Hokkaido around 1965. Basically a ton of miso is added to a oily broth. Sometimes tonkotsu or lard is added. It’s a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and hearty broth.
Curry – Curry based broth. This was also created in Hokkaido around 1965. It’s a bone and veggie broth that has curry in it. The noodles are thicker and kind of curly compared to regular ramen noodles.
Tsukemen – This one is a bit different from the other ones. This is typically known as “dipping” ramen. Basically the noodles are separate from the soup, which serves as a dipping sauce. This soup/dipping sauce is typically much stronger in flavor than other ramen broth. The noodles tend to be soba or udon, and again the idea is to dip these noodles in the soup/sauce.
Legit ramen has certainly started gaining more popularity over the years. Of course you can find ramen places in big cities like Los Angeles and New York City. However, there weren’t many (if any) ramen ya (ramen restaurants) outside of those big cities that certainly have an established Japanese population. People outside of those places only thought that ramen was the cheap instant variety. But ramen joints are popping up all over the place now. You also see people trying to get innovative with ramen. Take the ramen burger for example.
Using my vacation pictures for work heheh~ This was made with Wagyu beef. Wagyu is expensive, high quality Japanese beef. It has alot of marbling (fat) which makes it taste extra delicious and literally melts in your mouth. The buns were made from the noodles and also had a chopped up egg in it. Messy, but delicious.
I love ramen~ And I’m always down to try different places. Pork tonkotsu ramen is my absolute favorite. I love having extra chashu pork (roast pork) or pork belly in my ramen. For me, I like my ramen broth to have a richness to it. There should be body and a perfect umami to it. I like my noodles to have a bit of a bite to it. The pork should be tender. Basically don’t make me feel tired in having to chew my food. I’ve had alot of ramen over the past couple of years. However, I have to say that the best ramen I ever had was a chicken ramen in Kyoto.
Monsen Kiyamachi | Kyoto, Japan
My lovely friend and the alley that led to Monsen.
I went to Japan for the first time ever in March 2017. A friend was doing an internship in Kyoto and was basically helped guide me and planned that leg of my trip. She decided to take us to her favorite little ramen place in Kyoto called Monsen. It was a little izakaya (Japanese tavern/bar) tucked in a little alley, and definitely small. It had like 2-3 little booths and a counter. My group of 5 basically took up a little over half of the counter seating. The menu was all in Japanese. But we worked it out since some of us had known enough basic Japanese. Tip: Knowing Japanese isn’t necessary, but definitely helpful when in Japan. In my experience, many people couldn’t understand English very well or didn’t know how to communicate back in English. I know some basic Japanese and understand a good amount, so that definitely helped me. Also, the little conversations I had in Japanese did impress store clerks and people to give me some freebies and things~ Anyway, you may encounter alot of places don’t have English menus. Don’t let it deter you though. The Tori Gara Ramen. The broth was made from chicken bones. The ramen I had at Monsen was incredibly delicious. It was really rich, creamy, hearty, flavorful, and comforting (I happened to get sick during the trip).
A year later, and I’m still craving this ramen.
Like I said, I’m always down for a good ramen adventure. Though I admit my adventures are typically the tonkotsu ramen variety. I also hope to go back to Japan and try more ramen and also go to the Ramen Museum in Yokohama. Yes, that’s a thing. I also want to go to the Cup Noodle Museum, because why not~ Here are some of my ramen adventures over the years~
Chabuton | Bangkok, Thailand
This was one of the locations in Bangkok, Thailand. Chabuton is originally from Japan. It was the first ramen place to be awarded a Michelin Star. The chef also won the TV Champion competition. This was probably my first legit ramen experience. I can’t say that I remember it well though. Not only cuz it was a long time ago, but this was several hours after I got my wisdom teeth taken out. You’re not supposed to be slurping or eating hot foods, but I obviously didn’t listen haha.
Ramen Lab Eatery | Boca Raton, Florida, USA
I remember everyone was hella hyped for this place to open. It’s definitely a more westernized take on Japanese ramen. I’d say it’s more of a fusion style place. It wasn’t bad, but not my favorite. The pork was a bit thick and too charred for my liking. My jaw felt tired from chewing on the chashu pork belly. It was definitely a more meatier chashu than the fatty ones I’m used to getting with my ramen. If I’m back in South Florida, I prefer going to GoBistro. As for fusion ramen, I preferred the one at Tatsu Ramen in Los Angeles.
GoBistro | Hollywood, Florida, USA
This is my go-to ramen place when I’m back home in South Florida. It’s pretty close to where I live so I go a lot haha. The pork belly for this ramen is super tender.
Momi Ramen | Miami, Florida, USA
My ugly face for size comparison (ಥ﹏ಥ)
This was probably the craziest and most expensive ramen I’ve ever gotten. Craziest in that it’s the largest bowl of ramen I’ve ever seen or eaten. It was basically the equivalent of like 2- 2 1/2 large bowls of ramen. They had you use a freaking ladle for your soup spoon. It was like around $30 a bowl. It was pretty good though. $30 is still a bit steep though. Then again, it is the Brickell area of Miami. However, my dear friend and I were having a fatty and food challenge day so yup. And in case you were wondering, we did finish it. We both won. Though we lost in that we basically struggled to waddle back to the car.
Tatsu Ramen (Melrose Location) | Los Angeles, California, USA
My most recent ramen adventure. You may remember I went on a little vacation a month ago. My friends highly recommended that I hit up Tatsu Ramen during my LA trip. There are two locations. I went to the Melrose location. I was tempted to get the regular Tonkotsu Ramen, which they call “Old Skool Ramen”. However, I told myself I was going to try something different so I ended up with their signature Soul Ramen. It’s also a Tonkotsu broth. However, it also has black garlic oil, a sweet umami sauce, and ground beef. You also get to choose pork, chicken, or tofu. I obviously chose pork. The pork was still meaty, but had a good amount of fat to it. It definitely had some stronger flavors than the Old Skool Ramen that my sister got. I also got a seasoned boiled egg on the side, though I felt it was a bit too salty for my liking. It was still really tasty though. However, I think my favorite thing at Tatsu Ramen was the Wagyu Ramen Burger.
Tatsu Ramen was still a really great ramen joint. It had the ramen ya and izakaya feel, but a more hip and modern feel. It’s pretty modern in that you place your order on a tablet. They also make their noodles fresh and in house. You can see the room where they make and store the noodles too. Seating is pretty communal. If you’re not sitting right at the counter where they’re cooking, you’ll be probably be sitting at a large table with other people. Funny random story: There was a Chinese couple sitting next to us. Dude obviously took out his phone to take a pic for his Instagram. Except he dropped his phone in his ramen lol. I helped though by giving him a bunch of napkins.
Yeah…I’ve been on alot of food adventures. These won’t be my last~ Anyway that’s it for part one of the ramen post. I typically planned on doing one post per dish. However, there’s alot about ramen so I decided to split it. I’ll be having a cooking portion in the next part! The next post will be on making ramen…well specifically cheating in making your instant ramen look more like the legit shit. Perhaps later in the future I’ll learn how to make authentic ramen from scratch and teach you all. But remember, it’s a long process. I’m lazy and I don’t think any of us have time for that. So let’s settle for working with the instant stuff for now~ What’s your favorite ramen (instant and fresh/authentic)? What’s the best ramen you’ve ever had?~ Let me know!