Following up on my most recent blog about the Tokushima Ramen Exhibition that took place at the Hana Haru Festival, I want to briefly take the time to now expand on the popularity of ramen in Japan, and share with you my local favorite shop, which I only recently discovered has made its way to the United States. For many Americans like myself, ramen noodles are commonly known to be associated with the stigma of being a cheap instant meal due to the generational popularity of Top Ramen. In 1970, the Nissin Food Products Co. in Japan established Nissin Foods (USA) in Gardena, California and Top Ramen was born in all its glorious flavors: beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp. Unfortunately for the true ramen connoisseurs in the United States who are well aware of the difference between instant and gourmet ramen, finding a good ramen shop was once impossible. Fortunately for those ramen lovers today, there is a recent growing trend of ramen shops popping up all over mostly urban cities in the United States, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle to name a few. For more information on popular U.S. ramen shops, click on the link I’ve added onto each of the cities to see local rankings. As far as Tokushima ramen is concerned, one of my favorite local shops is Men Oh Ramen (translation – Noodle Kings), which to my surprise can be found in California. Although I’m far from a expert on Ramen, and confess I enjoy Men Oh Ramen most for its ordering conveniences and proximity to where I live, allow me to share a little of what I do know about these popular Japanese noodles. There are many types of ramen soup one can choose from, including the following: Shio (salt) – which has a clear, almost transparent chicken broth. Tonkotsu (pork bone) – which usually has a white or sometimes brown, thick broth made from crushed pork bones that have been boiled for hours. Shoyu (soy sauce) – made by adding a soy-based sauce to a stock usually made from chicken and various vegetables – with popular seasonings being black pepper or chile oil. And, Miso – which has a broth that combines chicken stock with a fermented soybean paste. Men Oh Tokushima Ramen prides itself on creating a unique Tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen, with its pork coming from local Tokushima pig farmers. Ramen noodles come in various lengths and widths, and include four basic ingredients: wheat flour, salt, and most importantly water. The type of water used to make these noodles often times can be the distinguishing factor in quality. With now an understanding of these basic types of ramen, I trust you will be well equipped to explore the many available toppings and sides on your own; as you slurp your own way to finding the TOP ramen shop wherever you may live in the world! いただきます! 🙂
For more information on Men Oh Ramen in the United States visit their website: http://www.menohusa.com
The Hana Haru Festa is an annual spring festival hosted by the city of Tokushima. The 3-day mid-April festival is highlighted by local Awa Odori dance groups performing the traditional summer festival dance throughout each day of the event. In addition to the Awa Odori dance performances, local hip hop dance groups battle it out in a Pocari Sweat sponsored ‘Fresh Dance Contest,’ featuring dancers of all size groups and ages. As in all Japanese festivals, there are of course an abundance of traditional festival food stands readily available, but the Hana Haru Festival is unique in terms of its Ramen Exhibition, which showcases the best of the best local Tokushima ramen. The festival also offers an arts and crafts exhibit of local Tokushima made products and on the last day special guest performances from nationally known singing artists culminate the weekend. A good experience worth checking out if in Tokushima in the spring!