I am a sick man. I have an addiction. At alarmingly frequent intervals I find myself slipping onto the train to Shin-Yokohama, to sate my dark lusts at the Ramen Museum.
Most Americans know of ramen in its “cup noodles” derivative, ninety-nine cents a bushel at the grocery, that inflicts scurvy on Japanese and American college students alike. The genuine article is harder to come by in the States, but enjoys tremendous popularity in Japan. Derivative of Chinese noodle soups, a proper bowl of ramen consists of rich, delicately flavored broth, choice cuts of meat (usually pork, though beef is in vogue now) and extras like eggs, seaweed, garlic, cabbage and leek. The clip below from Juzo Itami’s classic film Tampopo should convey the attitude with which said bowl is properly regarded:
Ramen is most basically differentiated by the type of broth: Shio, or salt broth, is typically light, and more of a Chinese style, often heavy on vegetables. Shoyu, or soy sauce broth, is popular in the Tokyo region and often seen overseas. Like shio broth the taste is lighter, more like what one thinks of as soup. The fun begins with tonkotsu ramen, especially popular in Kyushu though it has since spread throughout Japan; a much richer broth made from ever available ounce of marrow in a pork bone. To this, some entrepreneur in Hokkaido added miso paste, which makes it thicker still and more savory and why am I writing this guest posting when I could be having some well the shops are all closed no helping it sorry about that. Anyway, I’m going out on a limb here, but I suspect that if a Ramen restaurant (outside of Japan) doesn’t mention the type of broth, or offer a selection among them, they may be less than the genuine article. I lived in New York for years, but for every shop serving some kind of Ramen (there were a few good ones) there were ten sushi bars. For some reason, Japanese cuisine has taken on this hyper-refined, hyper-expensive image abroad, and I find that regrettable.
Now if anyone knows the number for an intervention hotline, please send it to me through this site before I suffer a heart attack.
Ramen Museum photo courtesy of bento.com. For many more photos and information about the museum, please visit bento.com's Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum page, as well as the official Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum website.
Ramen photos courtesy of Wikipedia. For more information on the different types of ramen, check out the Wikipedia Ramen page.
What's your favourite kind of ramen?
For more on Jacob and his writing, visit Jacob Ritari's website. You can also follow him on Twitter.
If you missed them, please check out his short stories:
The Sound of the Train
Maintaining Radio Silence
Fukkatsu no Jumon
City of Dreams
Read more about Jacob's debut novel, Taroko Gorge, including an excerpt, at the Unbridled Books website.
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