Japan from the inside out

Ramen research

Posted by ampontan on Friday, November 9, 2007

THERE’S NO TELLING what little treasures you’ll find when you look around on the English-language versions of Japanese websites. That’s why I keep adding sites to the list on the right.

For example, those of you who just can’t get enough ramen in your life and prefer Asian junk food to Western junk food might enjoy the website of the Japan Instant Food Industry Association, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about instant ramen, plus a few other things besides.


Accessing this website (which is also on the right sidebar) will enable you to discover the history of instant ramen starting from 1958, definitions of noodles and noodle categories, instant ramen ingredients, safety regulations, and the materials used to make the cups in which the soup is sold and eaten.

Want more? They’ve got it, including descriptions of how the noodles, soup, and condiments are made.

For the really hardcore ramen devotees, they also offer a file of statistical information, including the amount of flour used annually in Japan to make instant ramen, the length of one noodle, the length of all the noodles in one package, and the number of noodles in one package.

The last page on the site provides handy hints on how to diversify instant ramen meals, including recipes for ramen cabbage rolls, quail eggs in ramen, clams with milk ramen, crab, spinach and egg ramen, and other delights.

If that’s not enough, you can always slide on over to, also on the right sidebar. The previous site gives you the industry’s perspective, but here you get the noodle gourmand’s view.

Down here in Kyushu, ramen means the variety made with pork broth (tonkotsu), and for the outlook in Fukuoka, take a look at this feature article in the magazine Fukuoka Now. You’re sure to enjoy it because I wrote it! (Note: neither of the two people in the photo are me.)

This is just a small sample of the discoveries that await the intrepid Internet explorer. And no, I don’t mean the browser!

Of course, if you’re above ramen culture and the riff-raff that eats it, you can always use the sidebar to access the Hagakure in English!

To say ‘Dying without attaining one’s aim is a foolish sacrifice of life’ is a flippant attitude of sophisticates in the Kyoto-Osaka area. In such a case, it is difficult to judge rightly. No one longs for death. We speculate on what we like. But if we live without attaining our aim, we are cowards. This is an important point.

From measuring the length of ramen noodles to examining the meaning of life and death…whatever your taste in websites, we got ’em!

N.B.: The above photo is a still from the film Tampopo, which is about a ramen shop, among other things. You should make a point to watch it if you get the chance. Or even better, make your own chance!

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15 Responses to “Ramen research”

  1. Overthinker said

    Kyushu ramen is the best – first place I ever had ramen was a cheap-looking place in Fukuoka actually, and since then Ramen-Tonkotsu. Had an amazing tonkotsu at the Yokohama Ramen Museum – smelled awful, like it was made from boiled elephant dung or something, but it was the thickest and richest tonkotsu ever. From a shop in Kumamoto if memory serves.

    Anyway, read your article, but this is odd:
    Q: Is ramen fast food?
    A: Granted, a customer can walk into a shop, be served a bowl of ramen, consume it, and leave in 15 minutes. Yet many shops take a full day to prepare their broth, so the term fast food is not really appropriate.

    By that standard, McDonalds is not fast food either, as it takes time to bake the buns and mince the beef and stuff. Surely fast food is based on how fast the customer can get in, order, eat and leave, not on how fast it is to prepare from scratch?

    While I am sure everyone knows it, you might want to caption the photo as being from Itami Juzo’s “Tampopo” – incidentally, the movie that first got me interested in trying ramen.

  2. ampontan said

    Had an amazing tonkotsu at the Yokohama Ramen Museum – smelled awful, like it was made from boiled elephant dung or something, but it was the thickest and richest tonkotsu ever. From a shop in Kumamoto if memory serves.

    The Australian guy in that Fukuoka article had a short part of the interview (which I didn’t do) in which he compared the smell of some ramen to a certain part of the female anatomy. They cut that out for the website version!

    The first ramen I had was tonkotsu, too, and the shop proprietor lifted the skeleton of the pig’s head out of the soup pot to show me!

  3. bender said

    The Pastafarians say RAmen.

  4. […] Ampontan introduced a website on Japan instant food industry, which has most detailed information about the history of instant ramen starting from 1958. Share This […]

  5. Ken said

    It is said, ‘The further you go from Tokyo, the better Rahmen tastes’.
    There are mainly 3 tastes in Hokkaido, Miso of Sapporo, Shohyu of Asahikawa and Shio of Hakodate.
    However, Tonkotsu is far better anyway.
    There are roughly 3 lines in Kyuhshuh, Hakata Rahmen, Kumamoto Rahmen and Kagoshima Rahmen.
    I suppose Saga Rahmen is closer to Hakata one. Am I right?
    I wish Mr. Momofuku, the inventer of instant Rahmen, should have won Nobel prize.
    He could have earned huge money if he registered the recipe as patent.
    I have heard a noble story about it.
    A Korean came and asked him to tell the recipe without charge.
    The Korean was very tenacious but he did not give anything other than a letter to the last day of the stay.
    The Korean got on board with disappointment and opened the letter in the plane.
    There was written the recipe so that the Korean could gain big money.
    Now, there seems little Korean who knows the instructive annecdote.

  6. ampontan said

    I don’t know Ken, I think it’s Fukuoka style, but I’ve never eaten ramen in Fukuoka. I don’t think I’ve had Kumamoto style, and I had Kagoshima style once a long time ago.

    It wasn’t until I saw the movie Tampopo that I realized that what people considered ramen in Tokyo was different.

  7. bender said

    I like miso. Really good when you’re up north and minus 10 degrees C. So is sake, which I believe people in Kyushu don’t drink as much as shochu.

  8. ampontan said

    Depends. Down south in Kagoshima and probably Miyazaki, it’s all shochu, but there’s a lot of both consumed up around here.

    Speaking of Kyushu noodles, do people eat Nagasaki champon up in Honshu?

  9. bender said

    Sure. There’s a cheap franchise called “Ringer Hat (Hut?)”, but you can find it in other restaurants as well. I like it quite a lot because of my futo-men (fat noodle) preference. Nagasaki “plate-noodle” (sara-udon) is also well known.

  10. sai said

    >Speaking of Kyushu noodles, do people eat Nagasaki >champon up in Honshu?

    Kanto area has many リンガーハット shops.When I lived in Tokyo I often ate champon at shibuya リンガーハット shop.

    We are the champon.

  11. ampontan said

    Ah, Ringer Hut, thanks for reminding me. There’s one about 10 minutes away from my house, but we seldom go because there are two mom-and-pop type places that are closer.

    Actually I like sara-udon better than champon.

    And I thought that was a joke about “We are the champon”, but it wasn’t!

  12. Ken said

    Thank you for reply.
    If you like garlic, you will love Kumamoto Rahmen the best.

    “he compared the smell of some ramen to a certain part of the female anatomy.”

    Zhang Ziyi, popular Chinese actress, loves Tonkotsu Rahmen the best of all Japanese cuisine.
    I wonder if she feels as if cannibalizing.

    At first, Nagasaki people imagines fried noodles with Sara Udon while Tokyo people does boiled noodles with it.

  13. […] Sado Island has a new spokesman for their rice and you won’t believe who it is. – Click here to find out all you ever wanted to know about the history of ramen noodles. – Here is yet another […]

  14. […] ampotan addthis_url = […]

  15. Cris said

    I heard that Yokohama ramen has its own unique flavor, has anyone heard the same or can verify it? All I can tell is that the tonkotsu broth is exceptionally thick and there tends to be a lot of cabbage!

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