Ramen originated in China and made its way through Japan, where it took on many new variations and was refined to perfection. Different regions took on different interpretations of the traditional dish and today, the mixing, matching, pairing and preparing options are many.
The good news is that if we break it down, it is easy to learn how to categorize ramen elements simply enough to be an ordering pro.
Broths are typically made from pork or chicken bones. Sometimes it is made from dried salted tuna or dried salty anchovy and occasionally, you’ll find broth made from seafood. The flavor of the broth is a defining characteristic of Ramen soups.
There are four main ramen flavors: Shio (salty), Shoyu (soy), Miso (savory) and tonkatsu (salty and soy).
Typically, ramen is served with Chashu, a type of pork belly from China braised and cut into thin slices. Ramen might also be served with fresh seafood, a bouncy fished called Kamaboko or no meat. Beef is rarely served with traditional ramen noodles, but it can be found in many modern interpretations of the dish.
- Toppings and Condiments
Toppings are where ramen gets more creative and personal. Common toppings include seaweed paper, rehydrated seaweed, preserved bamboo shoots, scallions, black fungus, julienned leek, sesame seeds, fried garlic, pickled plum and pickled ginger, spicy sauces or spicy miso.
- Cooking Style
The way ramen is cooked has also evolved over time and around the world. Some of the common cooking styles come from Tokyo, Asahikawa, Hakodate, Hakata, Kurume, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Kitakata, Nagasaki, Sapporo, and Tokushima. Occasionally, ramen noodles come dry on a plate. In this style (Tsukemen), the stock is served separately as a soup. Each bite of noodles is meant to be dipped into the sauce before eating. This type of ramen is common coined Dipping Ramen. The flavor in Dipping Ramen is distinctly intense and the noodles are served lukewarm instead of piping hot.
There we have it, the ramen basics. Whenever you come to a ramen restaurant, you can expect to see a combination of these four elements. Sometimes you will get to choose how to combine the options and sometimes, you’ll be given a select menu of combinations that reign from different regions in Japan and China.
If you’re looking for a ramen bar near me in Phoenix, look no further. Noodle Bar has all of your traditional noodles dishes covered, plus a variety of our own chef’s talented twists. Each of our dishes comes with an option to add egg, extra meat or extra noodles.