We were discussing favorites in one of my English classes, and a student asked me what my favorite Japanese food was. It seems like a simple enough question. But I really struggled to answer. Sushi? Yakitori? Udon? It’s really hard to choose, because Japan has quite a few great dishes to choose from. But after some careful deliberation, I decided that Japanese Ramen is my favorite food. It’s kind of cheating, because I think ramen actually originated in China, but it’s amazing in Japan. There are several different types of ramen and I haven’t tried them all, but they are all incredible:
Miso is perhaps one of the most famous Japanese seasonings. If you read the natto article, I mentioned that miso soup is a common component of a Japanese breakfast. Miso has a somewhat salty taste and is made from soybeans (it seems like everything in Japan is made from soybeans!). The miso base makes up the ramen broth, and then you have wheat noodles, bean sprouts, seaweed, green onions (sometimes), and sliced pork. This is definitely my favorite ramen.
Shouyu Ramen (Soy Sauce)
I’ll give you one guess at what Shouyo or Soy Sauce is made from. Do you give up? Yes…SOYBEANS!! Fermented soybeans, water, and salt are used to make soy sauce, hence the “Soy” in the name. Shouyu ramen uses similar (or the same) noodles, bean sprouts, seaweed, and pork. But instead of using the miso for the broth, this soup is soy-sauce based. I think this ramen is also quite tasty but loses a bit of ground in the heartiness factor. I think soy sauce is the most popular of the Asian seasonings. It is quite widespread (people all over the world are familiar with it).
Tonkotsu Ramen (Pork Bones)
My first and only time trying this ramen was at the Ramen Museum in Yokohama (I’ll have to post a video for you sometime soon). Tonkotsu ramen’s base is made from pork bones. The broth (which includes pork bones, fat, water, & sometimes vegetable stock) is heated for hours. The resulting soup is a cloudy, creamy, white color. Sounds a bit unhealthy, right? Perhaps…I think this may be the unhealthiest of the four soups, but it tastes pretty good. The thing that I didn’t like about Tonkotsu ramen was that it was “heavier” than the other soups, and oilier, too. Finishing a big bowl of ramen always makes you feel full. But with Tonkotsu, I felt like I had just drank delicious, lead-lined water.
Shio Ramen (Salt)
This ramen, I’ve actually never had the pleasure of tasting. Shio follows the same ramen rules with wheat noodles, bean sprouts, seaweed, and sliced pork. But shio ramen literally means salt ramen. I am a tad apprehensive about trying this one, because I wonder how much the salt taste actually affects the soup. Many of students have recommended that I try this type of ramen, so it can’t be all bad.
Ramen is my favorite food in Japan. It’s such a comforting food on a cool or cold day, and it just tastes good. I hope to show you in a bit more detail what a Japanese Ramen shop is like.
Thanks for reading,
If you’re a fan of Japan’s noodles, then you may enjoy this post on the joys of Japanese noodles!
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