Japanese people love noodles, especiallyudon(made from wheat) and soba (made from buckwheat).Ramen (Chinese wheat noodles) are very popular too, especially among the young. They have almost become a national dish.
Ramen originated in China, and used to be calledChuka-soba (Chinese noodles) in Japan. The Japanese began eating them in the 1910s, around the time Chinese cuisine began receiving widespread attention.Ramen is now the name for a simple dish consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles in a soup seasoned with soy sauce, topped with simmered pork,naruto fish paste, bambooshoot pickles, and vegetables such as spinach orkomatsuna (a kind of Chinese cabbage). When ramen first came to Japan, it was served mainly in small sidewalk stalls.
Chinese-style noodles are made by mixing alkaline water (containing sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate) with wheat flour to make a dough. The dough is kneaded, then shaped into cylindrical strips. Each strip is stretched into a fairly thin string, then folded in half to make two lengths, which are then stretched again. The stretching and folding is repeated over and over, to get an increasing number of thinner strings.
I learned how to make ramen noodles this way in Shanghai. It was fascinating to watch one noodle become two, two become four, and so on, doubling all the time.
Nobody knows the origin of the word "ramen," although there are several theories. The most likely explanation, based on the way to make noodles, is that the word comes from two Chinese characters that are read as "ra" and "men," meaning "stretch" and "noodle."
In the 1950s, someone who had returned to Japan from China a few years after the war started making "Sapporo Ramen" in Hokkaido. The noodles became popular, and the word ramen was soon heard everywhere. By the 1980s, ramen had become a regular meal for young and old alike.Ramenenjoyed an unprecedented boom throughout the country in the first part of the 1990s, especially in large cities, and almost every mass media outlet rode the wave, playing them up in special features dedicated just to noodles.
This meal was prepared by Uehara Masakatsu, who owns a ramen restaurant called Pepe. He serves noodles flavored with soy sauce in the Kanto (Tokyo) style. The taste has remained the same since the restaurant opened 28 years ago. Many office buildings are located nearby, and more than half of Uehara's customers work there. He says quite a few of his customers are foreign travelers staying in nearby hotels.