Ramen is a noodle dish. It consists of Chinese style wheat noodles served in a soup.
Some sources say the origin of ramen is a Chinese noodle soup called “Nankin Soba-Nankin style noodle” served at Chinese restaurant in Japan ports around Meiji Era 1868-1912 right after the opening of Japan to commerce. The noodle soup become a signature menu at the restaurant and people added on Japanese original tastes, then the first Japanese specialized ramen was born. “Nankin Soba” “Shinasoba” “Chinese Soba” “Ramen” has changed its names time to time, still now we see “Shina Soba” and “Chinese Soba” sign outside of the restaurants but what is the differences of “Nankin Soba”, “Shina Soba” and “Ramen’? Simply the answer is, they are all same. “Nankin”, “Shina” “Chuka” has same meaning of “Chinese noodles.”
Around Mid- Meiji 1889 Ramen was called “Shina Sobaya” “Raamen’ “Roumen” , Though after Workd Wor II it has changed from “Shina” to “Chuka”, the procedure from how they called differently was from what was popular at that time and the area. For instance, Wakayama area most people calls Ramen “Chuka soba”, that is just because at the time ramen become popular in the area around 1945 the noodle soup was only known as Chuka Soba didn’t have any other name. In Tokyo, Ramen was generally called “Shina Soba” before, but at the end of WWII 1945 ramen was called “Chuka Soba”
After world war II, many Chinese venders have started ramen food cart, then the word “Ramen” used as commonly for the noodle soup. After WWII millions of Japanese troops had returned from China and many of these had become familiar with Chinese cuisine and subsequently set up Chinese restaurants or food carts across Japan, “Ramen” words was known to describe the noodle soup. Since Ramen didn’t cost a lot and had volume, good for health, it quickly become popular during the time.
1940 “MaruTaka” started Ramen food cart in Wakayama
1946 Ramen restaurant “Sugakiya” opened in Aichi Nagoya
1947 “Shukaen” opened in Hiroshima Onomichi / in the meantime “Sanku Ramen” in Kurume Fukuoka, Tokyo Ogikubo “Kanchintei” was opened then become major ramen restaurant.
Thereafter many ramen restaurants came out one after another all over Japan. Very first ramen “Shina Soba’ was simply consisted of Chinese style wheat noodles served in a chicken based broth flavored with soy source and green onions were on top, but now we have wide variety of ramen soups. Soy Sauce, Salt, Miso, Tonkotsu (pork-bone) or fish based broth.
After basic preparation ramen can be seasoned with any number of toppings, that can be makes different kinds of ramen, for instance, Chashu-men Sliced barbecued or braised pork, Wantan men, (dumpling), Kanton Style noodle, Tenshin- Style noodle, Gomoku-men (colorful toppings on) Chanpon men (vegetable and seafood noodle) Tan-Tan Men(spicy noodle), Tanmen (clear salt taste noodle). Recently we have Tsukemen (dipping noodles) The noodles and soup are served in separate bawls.
We also have Regional Variations of Ramen in Japan. While standard versions of ramen are available throughout Japan, the last few decades have shown a proliferation of regional variations from Hokkaido northern part of Japan to South in Okinawa, which is unlimited. usually regional ramen uses their own prefecture or city’s name such as Sapporo ramen, Hakata ramen, some area has two kinds of regional ramen, which is not unusual. Not only the differences of tastes, but looks, color, toppings, recipe, ramen can be divided to so many kinds. The more you get to know Ramen, the more you find Ramen is deeper than you may imagine! Now let’s start from it’s original style “Sho-yu – Soy Sauce Ramen”
To be continued……