Need-to-know Basics about Ramen
"Due in part to overseas advance by famous chain stores such as IPPUDO, it is felt that foreign fans of Japanese ramen have been increasing year by year.
I'd like to explain about types of the ramen which is loved by a lot of people. However, as with the classification of wine in France and kimchi in Korea, how to classify the ramen varies depending on people. This is because there are so many types of and individual opinions on the ramen. Therefore, I will just talk about a very fundamental classification here, and after that, introduce customs at ramen shops."
Diverse Types of Ramen Unique to Each Region
Ramen can be roughly classified into the following categories: soy sauce ramen, salt ramen, miso ramen, tonkotsu ramen, and tsukemen. While you can eat the ramen anywhere in Japan, it is diverse depending on regions, for example, Miso Ramen is a specialty for Sapporo, and Tonkotsu Ramen is a specialty for Fukuoka. Furthermore, even in the same category of soy source ramen, Kitakata ramen and Sano ramen, etc. have features peculiar to each region. Therefore, it is recommended to refer to guide books before eating local special ramen. Especially in Europe, there are relatively many shops of Tonkotsu ramen and Dandan noodles. So, many people probably feel soy sauce ramen is rare, which is the origin of Chinese noodles.
"As ramen shops are usually small, they may have only counter seats or a few tables in the premises. Since operating with the minimum number of staff, many of the ramen shops have customs similar to self-service restaurants. For example, customers purchase a ticket called “shokken” in advance, help themselves to pour cold water into a glass, which is usually served by store staff in Japan, and a box of tissue paper is on a table instead of paper napkins. You can feel free to use such water and tissue paper.
Similarly, side dishes and seasonings which are placed on a table are basically free and can be used freely. They include pepper, red ginger, white sesame, and takana. However, if you use such things too much because they are free of charge, taste would significantly change. Please be careful. It is recommend to eat the ramen without seasonings first, then add them little by little."
"In addition, the ramen shops have a tendency to put priority more on the strictness of time to boil noodles than on attentive services. This is for allowing customers to eat the ramen in the best condition. Therefore, since the ramen shops are often high-spirited in a unique way, please enjoy it as well.
Finally, I will give advice to those who have enjoyed the ramen especially in the western countries. As soup offered in Japan is probably much hotter than one in your country, please be careful not to get burned. In addition, ramen soup contains invisible ingredients such as pig bones used for tonkotsu soup. If you religiously need to avoid some foodstuffs, you should confirm beforehand."