Knowing the Real Ramen
Ramen is a hot culinary trend that has swept the world. It is everywhere. You find it served in small, unpretentious sidewalk stalls to glitzy high-end restaurants. You can even cook your own, cheap packets of dried noodles procured from the grocer’s near you. However, the microwaveable type is not exactly real ramen. The best ramen noodles today are much more similar to the ramen served 100 years ago.
Ramen was said to have been invented in China, though it can be contested as of Japanese origins. There’s much debate over whether the noodles were first made in Japan or China. Actually, ramen-noodle shops first sprang to popularity in both countries in the early 1900s, and up until the 1950s the Japanese referred to them as Chinese soba. When they were in China, battling the Second Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945), the Japanese encountered Chinese merchants selling these wheat-based noodles in travelling food carts. When they returned home from China after the war, they introduced their new appreciation for this delicacy. From then, the popularity of ramen surged in Japan.
Japanese restaurants have really made the dish their own since being introduced to it. The 1950s and 1960s were a booming time for the instant-foods industry almost everywhere, even in America. Where instant ramen noodles are concerned, they first appeared in Japan in 1958. Ramen had a reputation as a warm, nourishing meal in cold weather and in times of emergencies. They have become affordable, are quickly prepared and quickly eaten. By 1971, instant ramen traveled overseas, under such English names as Cup Noodles and later, Cup O’Noodles.
Handcrafted ramen noodles are the authentic ramen noodles. Even with the popularity of instant ramen, the handcrafted, hand-pulled variety never went out of style in Japan. The true appeal of today’s ramen is tied up in the question of what to add to ramen. The options are endless and have added to ramen’s respected reputation. There’s tonkatsu, a rich, savory broth made by slow-simmering pork bones; shio, a salty broth made using a combination of chicken, vegetables, seafood, and seaweed; as well as vegetarian versions. The toppings are endless: pork belly, green onions, soft-cooked eggs, dashi, and even lobster. People can make their own creations.
Creative with Ramen in Federal Way
See how tradition and innovation come together in ramen? When you’re in Federal Way, make sure to drop by K-Ton. We’ve got interesting, authentic ramen dishes any time of the year.