Ramen Trends for 2011

The food trends with ramen are interesting this year. Most of it is evident by the recent posts on popular and new shops in Tokyo. To wrap it all up, following are a list of five trends that Shokuraku magazine (February 2011) issue highlights below. I have included the name of some of the restaurants where you can find these ramen. If you do a search on this blog the restaurant information should come up as they have been mentioned in a prior posting.

1. Clear soup made from chicken or pork bones.  These are often cloudy or murky but these clear soups are rich in umami and flavor.  Shops serving this style ramen include: Ramenya 69’N’Roll One, Menya Itou, Baisen Shio Soba Dokoro Kinjitou, Hongare Chuka Soba Gyorai, Ramen Hajime, and Niboshi Iwashi Ramen En.

2. Niku soba. Ramen packed with lots of meat on top, usually cha shu. In the case of Ramenya 69’N’Roll One in Sagamihara, Iberico pork. Shops include New Old Style Niku Soba Keisuke, and Mensoken Kanade Kurenai.

3. A big contrast from trend number one, the clear soups, are dorokei, or thick soups, almost like mud. These are often made from pork or chicken. Shops include Muteppou Tokyo Nakano Ten.

4. Tsukemen, the noodles and soup are served in separate bowls. The noodles are then dipped into the soup, much like some soba dishes are served. With tsukemen the noodles are usually thick and the soup is often very rich in flavor. Shops include Chuka Soba Tomita.

5. This final trend is very interesting. It is that more and more izakaya (Japanese pubs) are serving better and better ramen. While izakaya have been selling ramen for a long time what has changed is their sourcing for materials. As restaurants throughout Japan have been suffering recently some ramen shops have begun selling their noodles and soup to izakaya so that good quality ramen can be sold at their restaurants.

One shop that looks interesting to have a good bowl of ramen at an izakaya is called Shin. It specializes in the local food  of Kumamoto prefecture from the southern island of Kyushu. This izakaya is all about shochu, the local distilled spirit. Kumamoto is known for its komejochu or rice-based shochu. It is light on the palate and very food-friendly. One good brand to look for is called Shiro, and I suggest having it mizuwari, mixed with water and on the rocks. The soup is made from horse bones instead of pork bones.

Shin しん

Shibuya-ku, Ebisu Minami 1-16-5, Tachimura Bldg. South B1

03-6663-8731

18:00 – 22:30, closed Sunday

I hope this information is of help to readers of this blog. I come across so much interesting information on Japanese food, most of it in Japanese, that I would like to help get the word out in English.

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