Origins of Ramen

The exact birthplace of ramen is unknown.  A few sources say it is of Chinese origin.[4][5] While other sources say it was first invented in Japan in the early twentieth century..[6][7][8]The etymology of ramen is also a topic of debate. One theory is that ramen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese lamian (拉麺),[9] meaning “hand-pulled noodles.” A second theory proposes 老麺 (laomian, “old noodles”) as the original form, while another states that ramen was initially 鹵麺 (lǔmiàn), noodles cooked in a thick, starchy sauce.  A fourth theory is that the word derives from 撈麵 (lāomiàn, “lo mein”), which in Cantonese 撈 means to “stir”, and the name refers to the method of preparation by stirring the noodles with a sauce.

Until the 1950s, ramen was called shinasoba (支那そば, actually “Chinese soba”) yet today chūka soba (中華そば, likewise signifying “Chinese soba”) or simply Ramen(ラーメン) are more mainstream, as the saying “支那” (shina, signifying “China”) has gained disapproval. [3]

By 1900, restaurants serving Chinese food from Canton and Shanghai offered a straightforward ramen dish of noodles (cut as opposed to hand pulled), a couple of garnishes, and a stock seasoned with salt and pork bones. Many Chinese people living in Japan opened food carts,  offering ramen and gyōza dumplings to laborers. By the mid 1900s, these food cart owners used a musical horn called acharumera (チャルメラ) to publicize their carts, a practice a few sellers still perform today although now they use a loudspeaker and  looped recording.  By the early Shōwa period, ramen had turned into a mainstream dish for those eating out.

Instant noodles were created by Momofuku Ando in 1958 who was the founder and chairman of Nissin Foods, which is now run by his son Koki Ando.  A Japanese poll named instant noodles the best Japanese invention of the twentieth century.[10]

SInce the 1980s, ramen has become a Japanese cultural icon. It’s studied around the world with many perspectives and local varieties infused into it.  A ramen museum opened in Yokohama Japan in 1994.[11]

Ramen is bigger than ever and it’s here to stay so come by our restaurant and give our version a try!

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