Ramen is a noodle soup dish, which originated from China, and it has become of the most common dishes in japan for the last decades.
This dish is cheap and widely available, and this makes it the ideal meal for travelers on a budget. Ramen restaurants, also known as ramen-ya, can be easily found in almost every corner in Japan, and they produce different regional variations of this dish.
The basic ramen broths don’t have a lot of ingredients. Mostly, the broths are made from chicken bones, pork bones, or a combination of both.
In some recipes, dashi, a consommé made of bonito flakes or niboshi is simmered with kombu, and then blended into the meat to create a clearer and purer broth. Certain regional varieties require seafood—but not mutton and beef.
Also check out the Food Network’s “everything you need to know about ramen”:
Different types of Japanese ramen
Here are the main types of ramen that you should be aware of:
First, what is miso? This is an ingredient made from salt and soybeans, and it mostly features in Japanese food like sauces and soups. Ramen has a very distinctive and sharp flavor, and it is the primary ingredient in miso ramen.
Miso ramen is very unique, especially because of its slightly orange color, and it is mostly served alongside veggies as the toppings, although you will also find other variations like egg and meat.
This type of ramen was not popular in Japan until the 60’s, but now it’s a common variation in most of the ramen restaurants.
“Shoyu” Soy sauce ramen
Soy sauce is another common ramen flavor—and it’s locally known as “shoyu.”
This hearty and rich version is known by its darker coloring, and it is mostly served with onions, pork, and eggs. Shoyu ramen is very common in Japan, particularly Tokyo, and it as a delicious and spicy flavor.
“Shio” Salt ramen
Also known as shio ramen, this is the oldest variation of ramen, and you can easily recognize it because of its clear coloring.
You should note that shio ramen has a slightly saltier flavor, although very tasty since it is usually made with a pork or chicken base. You can also find salt ramen in Chinese restaurants too.
Salt ramen is mostly served alongside a lot of seaweed, and it is a more traditional variation of ramen compared to others.
If you have problems with sodium, you should try to avoid salt ramen since it contains high salt content.
This type of ramen is very common, and it is made by boiling pork bones in order to create a creamy meat-based soup.
Tonkotsu ramen is mostly served with large portions of thickly cut pork (chasu), bamboo shoots (menma), and egg.
Even though tonkotsu ramen was originally found in Fukuoka, Kyushu region, it has become a common variety across japan.
This is the final type of ramen that you should know. Curry ramen is the latest variety of ramen to be introduced in Japan, and most people love it very much, especially those who like Japanese curry.
This variation of ramen is made out of curry soup, which is mostly made with pork bones and veggies, and then seasoned with curry.
Even though these are the main categories of ramen that you can easily find in Japan, there are other different variations, like abura soba, fish base, tsukemen, and even other unusual flavors like a duck.
If you love ramen, there is a chance that you have tasted one of the varieties that we have highlighted above, or you are even planning to taste all of them!
What you need to note about ramen noodles is that they are packaged and instant variety of noodles, made from wheat flour, different types of vegetable oil, and flavors.
These noodles are usually pre-cooked, meaning they are steamed and then fried or air-dried to reduce the cooking time for consumers.
Ramen Nutritional Facts
Even though the nutritional facts will vary between the different types of ramen, most of the instant ramen noodles have a low-calorie count, and they lack important nutrients too.
For instance, let’s take the nutritional information of one serving of chicken-flavored ramen noodles:
- Calories – 188
- Carbs – 27 g
- Total fat – 7 g
- Protein – 5 g
- Fiber – 1 g
- Sodium – 891 mg
- Manganese – 10% of the RDI
- Riboflavin – % of the RDI
- Niacin – 9% of the RDI
- Iron – 9% of the RDI
- Thiamine – 16% of the RDI
- Folate – 13% of the RDI
As we highlighted earlier, ramen noodles are made out of wheat flour, which is fortified with synthetic types of particular nutrients like B vitamins and iron to make them more nutritious.
However, they don’t have key nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, B12, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
So, how can you make ramen noodles healthier?
If you love eating ramen noodles, there are a number of ways that you can make your dish healthier:
- Add veggies – adding cooked or fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, onions, or mushrooms to ramen noodles can add the nutrients that are not found in ramen.
- Add lots of protein – because ramen noodles don’t have much protein, adding chicken, eggs, tofu, or fish can add protein that will make you feel fuller for longer.
- Consider buying low-sodium version – these varieties can assist you in reducing the salt content in your dish to considerable levels.
- Don’t use the flavor packet – instead, create your broth by mixing low-sodium chicken stock with fresh spices and herbs in order to get a healthier version of the noodles.
Although ramen noodles some of the cheap carb sources you can find out there in the market, there are other affordable and healthy options you should consider too.
Oats, potatoes, and brown rice are some of the diverse and cheap carbs that you should consider, especially if you want to save money.
How to make ramen
For the broth:
- Chicken wings – 6 – 6 ½ pounds
- Medium carrots – 4 (8 oz.) cut into ½” thick rounds
- Scallions – 3 small bunches, roots trimmed
- Water – 10 cups (divided)
- Head garlic – 1 (roots removed, skin on), cut ½ horizontally
- Ginger – 1 (2” piece) cut into ¼ inch pieces
- Dried shiitake mushrooms – 20
- Dried kombu – 6” sheet
- Soy sauce – ¼ cup
For the shoyu tare
- Soy sauce – ¼ cup
- Mirin – 2 tablespoons
For the noodles and eggs
- Large eggs – 3 to 4 (but this will depend on the number of the dinners)
- Fresh, thin, and way ramen noodles – 6 packages (5 oz.)
- Menma (fermented bamboo shoots) – ½ cup
- Scallions – 6 (medium) thinly sliced
- Toasted nori sheets – 3 (cut into ribbons)
- Toasted sesame oil (Asian) or chili oil
For the equipment you will need:
- Stovetop-safe roasting pan or large stovetop-safe casserole dish
- Slotted spoon or strainer for skimming
For making the both and tare:
- Roast your chicken wings. Put a rack in the middle of your oven, and then heat it to around 425 degrees F. Put in the chicken wings in a roasting pan or casserole dish (stove safe) and then roast until they are evenly browned. This should take you around 30 minutes. Reduce the oven’s heat to around 375 degrees F, and then add your scallions and carrots, then stir to mix. Continue roasting for an additional 20 minutes.
- Deglaze your roasting pan – transfer the veggies and chicken to a stockpot. Then, place your empty roasting pan on the stovetop, and set the heat to high. Add 2 cups of water and then stir and scrape vigorously, using a heatproof metal spoon. Scrape off the flavorful browned parts from the pan’s bottom. All the water to boil, and then carefully pour it into your stockpot.
- Add the aromatics – add your ginger, garlic, kombu, shiitakes, and the 8 cups of water to the stockpot, and then stir to mix. Allow the mixture to simmer over high heat—or when you see just a few bubbles around its edges.
- Simmer the broth – reduce the stove’s heat to the lowest setting possible and then add the soy sauce. Simmer while the stockpot is uncovered, and until the chicken meat has detached itself from the bones, and the wing bones can separate easily. This step should take you around 3 to 3 ½ hours.
- Strain your broth – pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, and then discard the solids. Allow the broth to cool to room temperature, cover the bowl, and then refrigerate overnight. Make sure that you skim off the fat from the surface and then discard it before using the broth.
- Prepare the tare – mix the soy sauce and mirin in a small container (airtight) seal, and then refrigerate until you use it.
- Cook your eggs – fill a large saucepan with water and then boil it over high heat. Reduce the heat until the water is simmering rapidly. Now, add your eggs into the water gently, 1 at a time, and then allow them to simmer for around 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs and put them in an ice-water bath to cool. Peel your eggs cut them in half lengthwise, and then set them aside.
- Cooking the noodles – put back the egg cooking water into the stove and allow it to boil. Add your noodles and allow them to cook according to the package directions—this should take you around 3 to 5 minutes. When done, drain the noodles and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking further.
- Simmer and flavor your broth – allow your broth to boil again in a different saucepan. Remove it from the heat and then add your tare to taste.
- Assemble your ramen bowls – divide your noodles between your ramen bowls and start ladling on the hot broth. To each ramen bowl with 1 or 2 egg halves, scallions, bamboo shoots, and nori, and then drizzle the sesame or chili oil.
- Chicken stock – 700 ml
- Garlic cloves – 3 (halved)
- Soy sauce – 4 tbsp. (plus extra for seasoning)
- Worcestershire sauce – 1 tsp.
- Ginger – sliced (thumb-sized)
- Chinese five-spice – 1.2 tsp.
- Chili powder – a pinch
- White sugar – 1 tsp. (optional)
- Ramen noodles – 375 g
- Cooked pork or chicken breast – 400 g (sliced)
- Sesame oil – 2 tsp. (for garnish)
- Baby spinach – 100 g
- Sweetcorn – 4 tbsp.
- Boiled eggs – 4 (peeled & halved)
- Shallots or green spring onions – sliced
- Sesame seeds – sprinkle
- Mix the chicken stock, garlic cloves (halved), soy sauce (4 tbsp.), Worcestershire sauce (1 tsp.), ginger, Chinese five-spice (½ tsp.), chili powder (pinch), and water (300 ml) in a stockpot or large saucepan. Allow the ingredients to boil, lower the heat, and allow them to simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Taste your stock—add a tsp. of white sugar or some more soy sauce to make it saltier or sweeter—depending on your preference.
- Cook the ramen noodles according to the packaging directions, drain them, and then set them aside for later use.
- Slice the cooked pork or chicken, and then fry the meat in sesame oil (2 tsp.) until it begins to brown, then set aside.
- Divide your noodles in your ramen bowls, and then top each with an equal portion of the meant, baby spinach, sweetcorn, and the boiled egg halves.
- Strain your stock in a clean saucepan, and then allow it to boil again.
- Next, divide the hot stock between your bowls, and then sprinkle over the sliced shallots or green spring onions, shredded nori, and sesame seeds. Let the spinach wilt a bit before serving.
Ramen bowl and spoon sets to buy
These are some of the best ramen bowls and spoons you can buy:
World Market Japanese Ceramic Ramen Bowl Set
- Genuine ramen experience – Slurp your favorite ramen the way it was meant to be enjoyed – in a perfect ceramic ramen noodle bowl! The set includes a bowl with chopsticks and a soup spoon for an authentic dining experience.
- Quality and finest materials – these ramen bowls are FDA approved, lead-free, and BPA free. Suitable for all hot and cold dishes and the entire set, chopsticks, and spoon included, are dishwasher and microwave safe. It makes life easier for all.
- Designed for endurance – Strong and durable made from the best, non-absorbent, insulated ceramic so your ramen tastes fantastic and stays warm. Treated to resist chipping, staining, fading, and will look new even after many years of use.
- Multipurpose bowl – the ceramic noodle soup bowl set will be your go-to in the pantry for ramen noodles, miso, and wonton soup, udon, and even pho. But it can also be used for cereal, ice cream, rice, and as a pasta bowl. The possibilities are endless!
- This set includes: 1 Set 3 piece Noodle Bowl with Soup Spoon & Chopstick
4 set (16 pieces) Ramen Bowl Set
- Asian recipes to the next level: This bowls will take your homemade meals to a one way trip to Tokyo
- Made from sturdy, restaurant-grade unbreakable Melamine, our bowls are built to last. Dishwasher and Microwave Safe
- Perfect size: 32oz is the chef recommended size. A Large amount that stays hot to the last bite
- Spoons, chopsticks, and chopstick stand included: Each set comes with everything you need. And unlike other listings, we also include chopstick stands, if they save on this little but crucial peace, just imagine what they are saving on overall quality.
Rovatta Regatta Ramen Soup Bowl Set
- Durable Quality: Ramen noodles bowls are very durable, 100% melamine, resist chipping, staining, fading and will look new even after many years of use
- Japanese Design: the Japanese ramen bowls have high quality, and it will make you feel like you are eating in a top fancy restaurant. These noodle bowls are made to last daily use
- Matching dinnerware set: Noodles ramen bowl is perfect for all types of Asian cuisine and compatible for all your dining needs. Ramen bowl sets will enhance your dining experience of soup
- Package Included: this ramen noodle bowl set contains four noodle bowls, four noodle soup spoons, and four noodle chopsticks. Ramen noodle spoon with a hooked end that won’t sink into bowl
- Easy to clean: Ramen bowl noodles are dishwasher-safe and easy to clean. Kindly do not microwave
How to use a ramen vending machine
Using a ramen vending machine requires four simple steps, which will get you ramen within a short period of time.
When you visit Japan, there is a possibility that you will find yourself in one of these machines—since ramen is such an irresistible delicacy. Ramen vending machines are a convenient way to order food—and they are commonly found at almost all ramen shops across Japan.
Almost every Japanese is used to this simple and fast way of ordering ramen, but this system tends to confuse first-timers, especially when everything is written in Japanese.
However, this shouldn’t deter you from enjoying ramen since these machines are easy to master.
What are ramen vending machines?
In Japan, restaurants are usually divided into two categories—those that provide a full-service system, and restaurants that have a food ticket system.
Ramen vending machines fall in the second category, and you will find them standing right next to the restaurant’s entrance, or even outside the restaurant.
Therefore, you should be able to know how to order ramen from one of these machines.
If you find a signboard or a menu outside, indicating the dishes offered at the ramen shop, it is advisable to check the dishes first, and then decide what you want to eat before you go to the shop.
Mostly, you will notice that there is one vending machine or ticket machine available—and you shouldn’t take too long to make your order; otherwise, you will have to battle with a long queue.
Most of the vending machines either have touch panes or buttons. The button machines are the older versions—with one dish per button.
There is a possibility that you will find these machines at old-fashioned restaurants, which serve set meals, or in ramen shops that are privately-run.
On the other hand, the vending machines with touch panels offer their menu services in English or Chinese, at times.
Mostly, the food pictures in these machines are large and colorful, which makes ordering food from these machines much easier—even for people who don’t speak Japanese. You will find these machines at large fast-food chains.
How do you order ramen from these machines?
You will need to follow four simple steps to get your food ticket. However, these are very common, and they might differ from one restaurant to another.
Let’s delve deeper into these steps:
Step 1: Insert your money
First, you will notice that the machine has a slot for bills and coins—but the slot locations might differ from one machine to another.
However, the machines will have an icon showing where you need to insert your money.
When you insert your money, the machine will automatically recognize the amount you have inserted, and the dish buttons will flash or light up.
Step 2: select your dish
Only a few ramen vending machines in japan have an English menu—and this means you will need to rely on the images.
Please note that: when you cannot recognize the items on the images or there are no images displayed at all, select one of the options at the top left of the vending machine.
The main reason behind this is that it is much simpler. Most of the ramen shops capitalize on the habit of the customers to search for food in a Z-pattern, from upper left to upper right, then lower left to lower right.
Therefore, they end up placing their main menu options on the top left. If you are confused about this, you can consider consulting the staff at these shops.
You shouldn’t be shy at all—even when you don’t speak Japanese, just ask for the assistance that you need.
Also, you need to note that the ramen vending machines offer a generous option of toppings, like eggs and veggies, just below the main menu. In addition to that, you can also order side dishes in the same manner.
Step 3: pick your ticket and change
Once you make your choice, a food ticket or tickets will fall in a tray, on the lower-left section of the machine.
You need to note that some vending machines will give you change together with your ticket. Others will need you to push an extra button to get the same.
Step 4: give the ticket to the staff
Once you retrieve your ticket, proceed to the waiting area and give it to the chef or staff of the restaurant. In some shops, the stall will approach you directly while at the machine.
The staff will then rip or cut the ticket, and you will get one half. You should place this slip on your table—and avoid losing it before you get your order.
Read more: different types of Sushi explained