To Ramen Lovers – Authenticity Matters

Posted on Jul 18, 2017 in Hiroko's Blog

If you want everyone to enjoy ramen noodles in the best possible way you can help me by spreading this information and following this advice yourself.  It is all about the best way to enjoy this Japanese noodle dish now sweeping America. Here is my plea: Eat your ramen noodles in its still hot broth quickly while the noodles are al dente in texture and the best in in flavor. This request may be a bit late in the US because I observe that here in America many dinners have become accustomed to eating their ramen very slowly over a period of 20 – 30 minutes or more when the dish has long since degraded in flavor and quality. But I encourage you to push this back on this trend for your own enjoyment of this wonderful dish and implore you to educate your friends on how to best enjoy a steaming bowl of ramen.

In Japan at a ramen restaurant upon receiving our piping hot noodle bowl in front of us we stop our conversation for a little while and tackle the pleasurable task of finishing the bowl while the noodles, broth and other toppings are at their the most delicious state– al dente noodles, hot broth, warm chashu pork, crisp toppings and full flavor in the dish. By the way it is OK to leave some broth behind in the bowl. It is fatty and salty.

In America I observe that lively conversations over the meal at ramen restaurants often prevents diners from consuming ramen noodles quickly as we do in Japan. Thus, I often spot not-yet-finished noodles sitting sadly, limply and idly in the once hot, but now lukewarm ramen broth for some time. In this situation ramen noodles definitely become soggy and mushy.

Ramen restaurants in the US have, however, made changes in the traditional noodle formulation to address this problem. The solution has been to add of starch to the wheat flour used to make the noodles. This addition does somewhat prevent mushy noodles even if they are left in the broth for a long time. But this new version disturbs me.  The starch addition causes the ramen noodles to lose their traditional authentic pleasantly chewy texture. The dish becomes more like eating Italian pasta noodles in ramen broth.

Am I the only person who is noticing this and complaining about it? Anyway, please help me to preserve authentic ramen noodles in America. Eat your bowl of ramen quickly while it is hot and flavorful and the noodles are in top condition.  That is the way ramen is meant to be.

As for eating tradition of slurping your noodles or the more “polite” Western way with no-slurping? That is your choice, not a rule.

Leftover ramen in a doggy bag – I saw this just two nights ago. Unheard of in Japan, but anything is possible in America.  But I cannot at all vouch for the noodle and toppings’ quality for the next day’s breakfast or lunch, and I warn you it is certainly not the way the ramen gods intend this delightful dish to be consumed.