Japanese Food Culture 12- Ramen and Tsukemen

The Story of the First Ramen


The Story of the First Ramen

The story that the first Japanese person to eat ramen was Mitsukuni Tokugawa (Mito Komon) some 400 years ago is well known, but this history has changed in recent years.

In the 1300s, a Zen monk who is said to have been a son of Emperor Godaigo was the first person to eat ramen in Japan. A newspaper reported that the reason was that the word "keitai-men" the originator of Chinese noodles, was found in a Zen monk's poem.

This means that some people ate ramen in Japan more than 900 years ago.


↑ Seafood Ramen "Tsujita" in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


↑ Seafood Ramen "Menya Murasaki", Tomobe Service Area, Joban Expressway.


↑ Ramen? No, it is not.

This is a "food sample" of ramen. Japanese food samples are of high quality.

You could easily mistake it for real ramen.


↑ Iwanori seaweed, ume paste, and grated radish are on top of ramen.

The char-siu is chicken. They use soup stock made from seafood.


↑ Miso ramen made with local miso.

The char-siu pork is soft and moist.


↑ Salt flavored ramen using Aizu mountain salt

CORASSE Fukushima, Fukushima Products and Tourism Association, Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture

Mountain salt is salt made from "hot spring water”.


↑ Tanmen This is a restaurant with a long line of customers.

Tabelog of “Mendokoro Maruyoshi-Shouten” in Nerima-ku, Tokyo

External website 



↑  Gifu Tanmen

External website  https://gifu-tanmen.com/


↑ Aomori Niboshi Ramen Hirakoya

External site Hirakoya



↑ Jiro-type Ramen "Marusuga" (Katsushika-ku, Tokyo)

External site Ramen Database



↑ Kitakata city, Fukushima "Maruya” 

The noodle of ramen is smooth and "curly noodle" is the feature of Kitakata ramen.

Chuo-ku, Tokyo: At the eat-in corner of Nihonbashi Fukushima-kan MIDETTE.


↑ Katsushika-ku, Tokyo: "Nagahama Ramen Michinobuta


External website Nagahama Ramen Michinobuta



↑Nagoya Ramen Specialty Restaurant Tokugawa-cho Josui Honten

Boiled egg, char-siu pork and bamboo shoots.

External site: https://josuiramen.jp/



↑ Toyama Black Ramen, Toyama Prefecture.

This is a popular ramen that features black soup.

Why is the soup black?

The answer is the color of dark soy sauce.



Restaurants where you can eat "Toyama Black Ramen" in Tokyo

External website Buta-kei Menya Iroha Akihabara Branch Website



↑ Ramen are beaten with green bamboo.

Ramen Hayama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo  

External site: Tabelog




↑ Hachiya, Asahikawa city, Hokkaido.

External site Asahikawa Ramen Hachiya tabelog



Side menu Gyoza

Gyoza (Chinese dumpling) is an accompaniment to ramen. 

↑Gyoza of "Kailaku" which is famous for big gyoza.

External site Kailaku



Gyoza is a good accompaniment for ramen.

It is a strong combination of carbohydrate and carbohydrate.


From the Chinese's point of view... Japanese food culture "Ramen set" is a big question!

In Greater China, people eat gyoza instead of white rice.

Why do most Japanese order gyoza when they eat ramen?

What is more surprising is that the set menu includes both "white rice" and "ramen".

In my country, it is a little unthinkable.


I was told as above, but I don't know....


In Japan, a set of ramen and gyoza is commonplace.

Is it because rice is the staple food and ramen is the substitute for miso soup?

A set of white rice and gyoza is also popular.

Is this also a part of Japanese food culture?


↑ This is also gyoza.

Gyoza go with ramen. I think this is enough.

It is also called "Disk Gyoza (enban-gyoza in Japanese)" in some regions.


I heard that this restaurant has a service to present gyoza for your birthday "as many as your age (only served in the restaurant)", but unfortunately, it is closed now.


Tsukemen was born in Japan.

Tsukemen uses Chinese noodles, but it is a noodle dish born in Japan. Nowadays, it is no exaggeration to say that tsukemen is one of Japanese national dishes along with ramen.

Tsukemen is a style of eating cold (or warm) Chinese noodles dipped in hot soup. It can be imagined that the ancient Japanese way of eating "zaru soba" and "zaru udon" was the inspiration for tsukemen.


How to Eat Tsukemen.

I have seen several times foreign tourists visiting Japan who pour soup over their tsukemen and complain to the restaurant that the amount of soup is not enough.

Now that many Japanese tsukemen restaurants have been opened overseas, I have heard that a certain tsukemen restaurant overseas has devised a way to serve noodles on a colander (zaru) to prevent this phenomenon. The idea is that the soup cannot be poured over the colander.


How to eat tsukemen. Dip the noodles in the soup.


How to eat tsukemen. The soup is not poured over the noodles.


The last pleasure is to add the soup to the remaining tsukemen and soup and drink.

I assume that this is an influence of the Japanese food culture soba.

At the end, using a delicious soup called “wari-soup”in Japanese, you drink it by diluting the tsukemen soup.

This is the last pleasure when I finish eating tsukemen.


Introduction of Tsukemen in various regions of Japan

The noodles are eaten with a squeeze of sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit).

"Tsujita" in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


You squeeze lemon over the noodles at this restaurant.

"Fu-fu Tei" in Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

External site: Tabelog



Mennya Musashi Takatora

External website: Takatora in Takadanobaba



↑ pasta-like tsukemen with wide width of noodles

"Soumen" Koto-ku, Tokyo


The noodles are covered with fish powder.

It is a soup stock of bonito flakes. Wide noodles come out from the soup.

External website: "Sugoi Niboshi Ramen Nagi"

URL: https://n-nagi.com/


↑ Tsukemen which is popular for long bamboo shoots and big char-siu pork 

"Chisoumen Mamiana" (Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo)

External site: Tabelog

URL: https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1305/A130501/13101471/



Tsukemen “Menya Itto” three kinds of char-siu and ajitama

External website: Menya Itto homepage



Tsukemen - This ramen restaurant also has long bamboo shoots.


Tsukemen with char-siu and egg toppings.


Tokushima ramen is characterized by sweet and salty soup. 

Awa Tokushima Chinese noodle Udatsu Shokudo

External site Tabelog



Ramen outside Japan

The picture below shows ramen from a restaurant in Taiwan.


Ramen in Taiwanese supermarkets is a little different from that in Japanese supermarkets.

There is no soup.

There is a lineup of authentic Chinese noodles ranging in thickness from thick to very thin.


The above information on ramen stores is subject to change. Please understand.