Common Misconceptions About Ramen

Ah, ramen. It's that warm, comforting noodle soup that you can either make from instant packets or order from a Japanese restaurant. Many people love ramen, but even those who are fans of the dish sometimes hold some misconceptions about it. Here are a few of those misconceptions.

Misconception: Ramen is just a fast food, processed, takeout item

If you've only ever had or seen ramen in the inexpensive foil packets from the grocery store, then it's understandable why you would think this. But ramen from a Japanese restaurant is many levels above packaged ramen in terms of quality. It's not a quick or easy dish to make. Rather, ramen chefs spend hours, and even days, simmering bones and veggies to make the stock that forms the base of the dish. The noodles also take lots of skill and practice to make well. And at a good ramen restaurant, each one of the toppings, from the pork loin to the hard-boiled egg, has to be separately prepared. While ramen does come in a processed, package form, the "real thing" is a quality dish.

Misconception: Ramen can't be vegetarian

It is true that the most common types of ramen, which are shoyu and tonkatsu ramen, feature meat stocks as the main ingredient. However, if you follow a vegetarian diet, there is still a ramen that should fit your diet. Miso ramen, which is served at most ramen restaurants, is made with a miso broth. Miso is fermented soybean paste. It has a really deep, rich umami flavor, but it does not contain meat. Order miso ramen with only veggie toppings, and you have a delicious vegetarian dish. In many cases, it will also be vegan — as long as the noodles are not made with eggs, which most are not.

Misconception: It takes a long time to be served ramen at a restaurant

Once you know everything that goes into making ramen, it's easy to assume that there would be a long wait if you were to go out for ramen at a restaurant. But this is not usually the case. Most of the ingredients are prepared in advance, so it only takes the cooks a few minutes to assemble a bowl once you order. In Japan, ramen is actually a dish people order when they want to be in and out quickly.

Now that you know a little more about ramen, look for a ramen restaurant in your area.