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U.S. has 'ramen moment' as chefs, foodies embrace Japan's beloved comfort food

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Awesome! Let's get some ramen shops all over the nation! Enough with this Maruchan and Nissin crap!

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Too bad there's no mention of the pioneering chain Ezogiku, which has served completely authentic Sapporo-style ramen at multiple shops in Hawaii and Vancouver (and now L.A.) for almost 40 years.

(The company may get more attention again in Japan now that its venerable main branch in the Waseda area has a brand-new subway station right across the street from it. Still, they've always steered away from high-end foodie glamour).

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Do they eat ramen with forks in America?

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Ummm....Isn't ramen Chinese food? And, yes, they eat ramen with a fork and miso soup with a spoon.

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The thing I find funny and weird is how in the past 15 years, the last 3 companies I worked for in Silicon Valley all regularly stocked Cup Noodle in their free food kitchens.

Some back story, I lived in Japan when the first Cup Noodle vending machines hit the streets, and remember having my first one on a cruise from Tokyo to Miyakejima. I recall thinking, no way will I ever see this in America.

The cafeteria of my current company has a freaking sushi bar, and it's hardly the only company to put one of those in. It also regularly serves ramen and various donburi. During any given lunch time, easily 10% of the diners are chowing down raw fish, unadons, or tempura-udon.

As for Ramen in SiV, there are a handful of places that have been around easily ten years, or more. "Let's go grab some ramen." isn't an unusual thing to hear at all.

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I still like Shinsengmi in Gardena (Los Angeles).

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Is that Berkshire pork from Berkshire, U.K., Berkshire MA., or from the berkshire breed of pig?

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Instant noodles are so pervasive that they've nearly become a staple food for poor people in Mexico, replacing the more nutritious, or at least less nutritionally harmful, corn tortilla (especially with the price of corn rising like it has). Nutritionists are warning of a serious health backlash for people who subsist on the stuff.

I was bemused to see spoons distributed along with the miso soup even in a restaurant in Hawaii, where people generally know better... :-/

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"Do they eat ramen with forks in America?"

Yes, in the mid west, maybe south. Here in New York, with the number of Chinese and Japanese restaurants around, very few people eat ramen with a fork. I think the same goes for the West coast.

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Ramen. Gooooood.

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Instant noodles are so pervasive that they've nearly become a staple food for poor people in Mexico, replacing the more nutritious, or at least less nutritionally harmful, corn tortilla (especially with the price of corn rising like it has). Nutritionists are warning of a serious health backlash for people who subsist on the stuff.

Seriously where do you get your facts? That statement is just soooo not true.

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Now are those ramen americanized in flavour as most of the food in america seems to be.

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Seriously where do you get your facts? That statement is just soooo not true.

Try starting with the nutrition label on any bowl of instant noodles.

That statement is soooooo true.

Instant noodles are garbage.

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The part that is soooo NOT true is

sk4ek at 10:09 AM JST - 4th July Instant noodles are so pervasive that they've nearly become a staple food for poor people in Mexico, replacing the more nutritious, or at least less nutritionally harmful, corn tortilla

Instant noodles are indeed crappy.

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Ossan...Just a point. . being west coast or NYC does not necessarily mean a thing. I come from a small town in the South. We use ohashi for Asian food.

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15 bucks for a bowl of limp noodles...swell

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this will surprise lots of japanese people, but eating with chopsticks is not difficult, its not a 'talent' or a 'skill'...3 minutes is all you need

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Is it a talent only if you do it "beautifully".

(Yes it's sarcasm)

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I live next door to the shacho (son of the founder who passed away last year) of Nissin, so I am getting a kick out of this. Have to admit I haven't eaten instant ramen in years. There's Ippudo nearby - not bad, always a big line.

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RMGTTF: Regarding the source of my opinion about instant ramen in Mexico, I could start with this article from the May, 2006 issue of Fortune Magazine, which I believe is considered a fairly reputable source...and one of several media outlets to bring up the issue over the past couple of years.

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Mexico's classic staple, the corn tortilla, has seen better days. Consumption has declined 25% since 1995, which happens to be around the time Mexico signed a free-trade agreement with the U.S., opening its floodgates to foreign junk food.

Ever since, consumers have tasted their way through an onslaught of sweet and salty options, arriving at an unlikely new favorite: Japanese ramen noodles imported from the U.S. Consumption has grown nearly 30% a year since 2000, up to one billion servings last year. Easy to prepare, filling, and relatively cheap at 40 cents a serving, noodle soups are now stocked in upscale grocery stores in Mexico City and tiny general stores in mountain villages.

Leading the way is the Maruchan brand owned by Toyo Suisan Kaisha (Research), a Tokyo company that has captured 81% of the Mexican instant-noodle market. It and other Japanese noodlemakers have tuned in to the Mexican penchant for chile and lime and have developed new flavors accordingly.

The noodles are especially popular among the urban and rural poor, many of whom no longer farm the corn and beans that once sustained them and instead work long hours in factories or small businesses, leaving little time for cooking. Diconsa, the government food-assistance agency, is purchasing hundreds of tons of Maruchan a year.

But the love affair with MSG-laden high-fat noodles has Mexico's public health experts on high alert. "We are seeing both malnutrition and obesity in rural areas around the country," says Teresa Gonzales de Cossio, a nutrition expert at Mexico's National Institute of Health. The increasing presence of Maruchan and other low-nutrient foods, combined with less physical activity, is a major factor in Mexico's ballooning obesity epidemic, which may earn it the laurel of most obese nation in the world in 2006.

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Note that the above trend pre-dates the dramatic rise in corn prices, which has only exacerbated the issue.

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That article only says that they are eating a lot of maruchians, it doesn't say anywhere that is becoming the staple food at all!

Maruchians are .40 usd a serving, tortillas used to be .40 cents a kg on 2006 and now they are .60usd 1 KG.

So your statement is still soooo not true

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sorry should be 40 cents a kg on 2006

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RMGTTF

Actually, the article specifically states that consumption of corn tortillas is down 25%, and that of instant noodles is up 30%, and that 1 billion+ servings were sold in 2005, when the country had a population of about 103 million. So I'll concede that at about 10 servings annually for every man, woman, and child, it's perhaps not yet a "staple" in terms of absolute market share.

Still, I stand by the point of my original post, which was that something that was relatively nutritious, local, and inexpensive, is rapidly being replaced by something that is equally inexpensive, but of little nutritional value and possibly even damaging to the body when consumed in large amounts.

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Yeah it's not yet and won't be a staple, Mexicans do eat a lot of junk food though and those things became popular. Many times they are eaten as a snack only.

Malnutrition in there is a matter of people being more educated to become health oriented and buy nutritious things rather than crappy ones. I say put the instant noodles in the same section as junk foods.

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If you like ramen and are ever in the UK, DO NOT venture into the Wagamama ramen chain.

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The one guaranteed way to make anyone eat a bowl of ramen is to get them to watch "Tampopo". After a couple of hours of mouth-watering scenes of ramen preparation you can think of, and do nothing else until you get a bowl.

This could be very inconvenient if, for example, your waters break, so I would advise pregnant women to avoid the movie, unless they want to risk delivering in a noodle restaurant and having to call the brat "Charshu".

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博多豚骨ラーメンVery good for colesterol. Getting it higher. But oh so good.

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Ramen Banzai!

Ramen Banzai!

Ramen Banzai!

I like Ippudo enough, but I would like to see a Kyushu Jangara somewhere in the States.

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How is Ramen a Japanese comfort food? It's from China... that can't be comforting to them at all.

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Japan's Ramen is Chinese the same way Domino's Pizza is Italian, if not even further removed. It's clearly been transformed to the point of being a different food.

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Instant anything is so horribly bad for you..... I mean, who actually thinks they're eating chicken in cup noodles???

Are there going to be ramen police going to the US?

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Instant ramen is great for hardening up those arteries and lifting the blood pressure. It will also contribute to a stomach ulcer if you eat it regularly. Great stuff! Give it to your kids for lunch every day!

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How is Ramen a Japanese comfort food? It's from China... that can't be comforting to them at all.

The Japanese adapted it, and recently it has been re-exported back to China and is known in Chinese as Japanese ramen (Japanese lamian).

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Only the US would claim a dozen good authentic ramen shops in a country of 320 million people, concentrated in two areas (SoCal and NYC) is a call for declaring some kind of ramen breakthrough. There are probably as many good Nepalese curry shops in Japan, I don't hear anyone declaring a Nepalese curry moment. And I wish they wouldn't lump in Maruchan with Ippudo, it's really not the same food any more than a hot dog is a steak.

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Only those that don't have chopsticks or know how to use them, use forks.

Oh, yeah I meant to add to the article that there are some Store Brands (generic) that should be avoided completely. Re; Instant Ramen, the foremost is Kroger Instant Ramen, which occasionally is on sale for 1/2 cents for 1-2 packages, though usually on sale for 6 for 10 cents (usa). Mainly because the stuff is utterly vile. The second worst is the Meijer Store Brand. Both soup base packets are about as weak as plain water, the noodles cook fast only because they are cheaply manufactured, fluffy to the point of disintergating at the application of eating utensil.

But thats just my opinion, from my experiences. Nissen has a good product, but comparitively Maruchan makes a better instant ramen at a better price, its amazing they can turn a profit. Maruchan is so popular in the US that in many stores its difficult to keep it in stock.

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Try the instant ramen in japan, NOT even talking Nissin, etc but the stuff that goes for 300Yen plus.

Yeah, they are instant ramen but take a lot to prepare, stuff you need to add before hot water and after and stuff that needs to be heated during, etc.

Lots of famous restaurants assist in making them.

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Only the US would claim a dozen good authentic ramen shops in a country of 320 million people, concentrated in two areas (SoCal and NYC) is a call for declaring some kind of ramen breakthrough. There are probably as many good Nepalese curry shops in Japan, I don't hear anyone declaring a Nepalese curry moment.

I'm pretty sure there are more Nepalese curry shops in America than in Japan and they also haven't declared it a Nepalese curry moment. I think it's because this is a site that caters to Japanese news and it's a slow day. Also there aren't so many places with good ramen shops outside of Japan, whereas Nepalese curry isn't so rare.

Now are those ramen americanized in flavour as most of the food in america seems to be.

People running restaurants serving foreign cuisine always cater to their host countries, it's called business. Only in cities with large foreign born populations do you find foreign food that can be considered authentic, whatever that means.

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