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Why is Ramen so Popular in the US?

Why is Ramen so Popular in the US?

Old Mar 19, 12, 7:48 pm
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Why is Ramen so Popular in the US?

Ramen is so much more popular in the US than udon or soba, but in Japan, it seems to be just the opposite. It never occurred to me before, but now I really wonder why. Any thoughts?
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Old Mar 19, 12, 7:58 pm
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Originally Posted by JerryFF View Post
Ramen is so much more popular in the US than udon or soba, but in Japan, it seems to be just the opposite. It never occurred to me before, but now I really wonder why. Any thoughts?
Ramen is cheap, and I imagine more well known.

My mom gave it to us as kids, and it was cheap and easily accessible poor college kid/newlywed food.

I don't remember noticing udon based soups (not that I was looking hard) until the late 80's....and it was something you made a trek to chinatown for.

Now you can buy it at Safeway ... but Ramen was at Safeway long before Udon was.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 8:32 pm
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If you're talking about instant ramen, it's popular and widely available in every country I've been to. It's not a US thing at all.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 8:44 pm
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Originally Posted by JerryFF View Post
Ramen is so much more popular in the US than udon or soba, but in Japan, it seems to be just the opposite. It never occurred to me before, but now I really wonder why. Any thoughts?
I don't know what part of Japan you're talking about, but eating ramen is a cult there.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 8:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Braindrain View Post
I don't know what part of Japan you're talking about, but eating ramen is a cult there.
So true, you have japanese chefs taking culinary classes for many years, and many of them have yet to perfect the "perfect" broth.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 8:53 pm
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Originally Posted by JerryFF View Post
Ramen is so much more popular in the US than udon or soba, but in Japan, it seems to be just the opposite. It never occurred to me before, but now I really wonder why. Any thoughts?
I would guess that ramen outsells soba and udon in Japan too - particularly when it comes to packets sold in supermarkets and "just add hot water" containers in convenience stores.

Having said that, I know there's a dearth of good udon and soba outside Japan. I only know one place in London where I can get decent udon.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 9:33 pm
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Originally Posted by WhiteGimmieBear View Post
So true, you have japanese chefs taking culinary classes for many years, and many of them have yet to perfect the "perfect" broth.
I am reminded of this movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092048/
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Braindrain View Post
I don't know what part of Japan you're talking about, but eating ramen is a cult there.
+ 1 - so true

I have taken a trip to Yokohama just to go to the Ramen Museum (didn't eat breakfast so that I can have three servings of three different types of ramen)

Just discovered the "Instant Ramen Museum" in Osaka, plan to go there in the next couple of months.

My uncle owned a ramen shop in Saitama, he said he had a customer who would travel from Ginza to his little shop because he did the soup right.

Growing up in Canada, my impression of ramen was "Mr. Noodle" (Chicken flavor) or Ichiban Instant Noodle but after discovering the "real" thing, it doesn't compare. After saying that, when I go back to YVR, I do like my "Mr Noodle" Instant Ramen but to consider that to be the ramen the Japanese like, is really off the mark.
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Old Mar 20, 12, 12:19 am
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Indeed, good ramen from a ramen shop is something completely different from packaged ramen. Although they both fill a need, and both bring back good memories...
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Old Mar 20, 12, 12:33 am
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
I am reminded of this movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092048/
I love that movie -- so bizarre and delightfully Japanese .

I think that Ramen is much more "in" in Japan right now. People definitely obsess over Ramen -- and it's many different variations. Udon & Soba are widely available (and there are many places that specialize in it) in Japan. However, ramen places have much more of a cult following.

As to why it's more popular in the US than Soba or Udon? My personal take is that Soba & Udon are much more delicate dishes -- and more difficult to make truly spectacular. IMO average Ramen is tastier than average Udon or Soba. However, excellent soba beats the pants off any bowl of ramen for me in Japan
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Old Mar 20, 12, 2:17 am
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Originally Posted by Braindrain View Post
I don't know what part of Japan you're talking about, but eating ramen is a cult there.
+7

You have to go somewhere like Takamatsu in Shikoku to find the udon religion outstripping the home grown ramen cults but as an udon and soba enthusiast who is married to a locally born ramen lover, here in Tokyo there is no sign at all of udon and soba shops (even combined) outnumbering ramen ya.

In the last week I've been here there have been numerous TV programs focusing on the joys of ramen with the styles of different ramen shops being investigated and discussed in detail and their offerings consumed with lots of appreciative noises and lip smacking by panels of celebrities.
Udon and soba are enjoyed in a much more sober fashion.

What you will find is that most ladies will never drink a full bowl of ramen broth but they may down the lighter dashi based broth from a bowl of soba or udon.

The udon and soba you can buy for home consumption in Japan does approximate all but the very best handcrafted restaurant noodles.
For Ramen you HAVE to eat out as there is no instant or refrigerated version that comes close to your average ramen shop noodles. Perhaps this is the main reason that ramen joints are so very very popular.
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Old Mar 20, 12, 9:11 am
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Originally Posted by missydarlin View Post
Ramen is cheap, and I imagine more well known.

My mom gave it to us as kids, and it was cheap and easily accessible poor college kid/newlywed food.

I don't remember noticing udon based soups (not that I was looking hard) until the late 80's....and it was something you made a trek to chinatown for.

Now you can buy it at Safeway ... but Ramen was at Safeway long before Udon was.
Totally agree. Who among us wasn't, at some point, on a steady diet of ramen noodles in college or when we were just starting out on our own? Best bargain in the grocery store! Well, except for the sodium level!
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Old Mar 20, 12, 10:32 am
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If you like spicy ramen, Koreans have perfected that area. Just goto Amazon and type Nongshim ramen for some kick!
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Old Mar 20, 12, 11:35 am
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Instant noodles is a staple in places like Indonesia..... the key driver in this case is the price.
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Old Mar 20, 12, 8:09 pm
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Ahh...the joys of Ramen. I can't say that I am a huge fan though it is good on a cold day and can be delicious. Though I like pho more.

I was visiting friends in Northern Japan and they insisted I had to go to the best ramen shop in the country. We go to this little hole in the wall. It maybe sat 10-15 people but it was packed. To my friends, it was awesome. To me, it was just ramen. With that said, I do have a couple of instant packages in my pantry just in case I run out of other food at the end of the month.
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