Japanese Ramen vs. American Ramen

Sushi in the United States is an Americanized version of Japanese sushi, and so is the ramen. They may be both touted as “Japanese” or “ramen,” but it is unlike the country of origin.

Pizza Hut (I-talian), Panda Express (Americanized Chinese food), Poke (mainland pooky), to Taco Bell (cuz Muuuuurica) are all of the Americanized versions that many of us love…. “mmmh, mmh, mmh good, my Taco Bell Mexican Pizza (I love Italian food).”

Taco Bell is an Americanized version of Mexican food and is considered the *most popular Mexican restaurant in the United States regardless if it is not straight out of Mexico City.

* The Harris Poll “Taco Bell is America’s Favorite Mexican Restaurant

Travel the World Through Your Stomach

Although if you have never had a real Italian pizza, or an authentic Mexican taco, you just might want to thank yourself for trying it because when you do, you just might fuggedaboutit that Sbarro slice you just had at the mall.

The context to this blog post is about Japanese restaurant-style ramen, not the instant kind. It is the ramen product marketed as “Japanese,” but it is often nothing like the Japanese version. As for instant ramen, go wild, bro.

Americanized Ramen

Many restaurants outside of coastal cities and rural areas have been developing an Americanized style ramen.

Photo Description: a composite pic of what I deem as American ramen. The bowl has enoki, spinach, bok choy, radish, corn, carrots, shiitake, egg, and a million other ingredients.
In Murica, I call this the bukkake bowl.

From Colorado to Ohio restaurants are serving up American ramen from $10-$18 with an average price of about $13.

With so many influencers throughout social media looking for clout and likes, ramen has taken on a very American style. Especially with vegan and vegetarian influences (a lot of vegetables such as radish, carrots, to enoki mushrooms not found in Japanese ramen).

Photo Description: the Google results image results page when you Google "ramen recipes." Every pic has a ton of ingrediennts, but they especially like Chinese bok choi and shiitake mushrooms.
I’m waiting to see a “pha ramen banh mi.”

Asians get lumped together as one homogenous group, so you will see Chinese (bok choy), Korean (sesame oil to seeds), and Thai (sriracha to chili’s) style ingredients all dumped in and touted as “ramen.”

Google “ramen recipes” (I clicked on images to give you a visual).

Photo Description: American Ramen components: instant soup stock, noodles, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, spinach, corn, julienned carrots, sliced radish, edamame, plain hard boiled egg, beni shoga, sesame seeds, pork, beef, or shrimp.
As long as you include “Asiany” ingredients, you are now a food influencer/chef (extra points if you make it colorful).

Japanese Ramen

This is Japanese ramen from Japan and also Japanese ramen chains in the United States (primarily in large coastal cities, mainly in LA to SF and NY).

Just like a hamburger, Japanese ramen has it’s core ingredients of green onion, fermented bamboo shoots, and toasted seaweed (for soy sauce or fish based broths)

Photo Description: Japanese ramen from Menya Shono.
Image by Mensho Tokyo

In Japan, Japanese restaurants offer up ramen priced as low as $6 to $12 with an average of $9 (affordable for the everyday salaryman).

Even Michelin Starred ramen in Japan will run you $9 to $14 (try finding that level of quality at an affordable price).

Even the Michelin starred ramen restaurants to the most infamous of restaurants start at $8 for a solid bowl of ramen.

Photo Description:
Andrew knows what’s up.

Want to learn more about Japanese ramen, follow Andrew @ramen_beast on Instagram.

Photo Description:
Tonkotsu ramen from Ichiran. Image by my go to people, City Foodsters

Japanese ramen is all about less is more and focuses on quality above all else. The top restaurants produce their own stock to even noodles and some of the toppings themselves. Not to mention utilizing locally sourced ingredients.

Photo Description:
Kitakata style ramen.

Regional styles vary from tonkotsu (Kyushu/Southern Japan), shoyu (Tokyo), miso ramen (Hokkaido/Northern Japan), to a number of other styles spread throughout Japan like Kitakata style in the Tohoku region.

The regional styles of the BROTH OF RAMEN IS THE STAR OF THE SHOW (you will not find the recipes online).

Photo Description:
Yuzu shio ramen at Afuri, Japan. Image by the City Foodsters

Tonkotsu (pork stock), shio (salt flavoring), shoyu (soy sauce flavoring), tori paitan/chintan (stock), to miso (flavoring) ramen.

Photo Description:
Some pork stocks take well over 24+ hours to prepare and create.

In an upcoming post, I will go further in depth on the differences between American and Japanese ramen.

Want to read about American vs. Japanese Ramen in Vietnamese? Check out Ngo Linh’s Blog, along with the original source Mashed.com by Felix Behr.

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