Ramen is a dish said to have originated in China, but it has grown into a uniquely Japanese phenomenon, with some ramen shops in Japan even reaching pop culture celebrity. In 1970s and 80s Japan, during the economic boom, ramen was considered the accessible and cheap food of the working class. This is still true today, but there is a new breed of ramen in Japan, infused with wild creativity from some of Japan’s most out-of-the-box chefs.
Ramen shops in Japan have room to play with various combinations of broth, noodles, and toppings, giving way to endless variations to confuse and tickle your taste buds. From savory Sapporo miso ramen to Nagoya’s spicy “Taiwan Ramen,” every region has a specialty ramen. There are also creative ramen dishes like black squid ink ramen and mabo tofu ramen, and tsukemen, a style of ramen in which hot, concentrated broth and cold noodles are served separately, meant for dipping. Ramen in Japan is really its own food group, always adapting to the changing landscape of Japanese cuisine; keeping ramen aficionados on the edge of their seat. To become a ramen expert, check out some of our ramen experiences, like ramen tours and cooking classes, below. You’ll never go back to Cup Noodle again.