This Chinese-style noodle became such a great favorite in Sapporo, the capital of
Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, that it is now considered to be their
regional dish. Ramen is to Sapporo what baked beans are to Boston. In other
countries, the word for Ramen may be different, too. For example, they are
called “Maggi Mee” in Singapore.
The process for turning the traditional Ramen noodles into the now familiar instant,
packaged noodles was pioneered by Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods in
Japan. In 1970, Nissin Foods introduced “Top Ramen” to the United States and, as
the saying goes, the rest is history.
Many other companies introduced Top Ramen clones and even such industry giants such
as Lipton and Campbell's began to experiment with Ramen-like products. Fierce
competition notwithstanding, Nissin still controls slightly less than half of the
U.S. Ramen market and fifteen percent of the world Ramen market of about ten
billion dollars annually. At this writing, the average wholesale price for a
package of Ramen in the U.S. is only twelve and a half cents.
Because of their enthusiastic acceptance in the market place, it wasn't long
before instant Ramen skipped over national boundaries and became an international
phenomena. Factories that make Ramen noodles can now be found not only in Japan
and the U.S., but in Europe, Korea, China, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and
Each country's Ramen noodles reflect their own particular flavor preferences.
Korean Ramen is highly spiced and often contains packets of black bean sauce.
China makes Ramen in Szechuan flavors. Thailand makes very thin, delicate noodles
with very hotly spiced packets. Japan prefers the flavor of seafood and mild
spices. In the U.S. they are usually available with meat flavors, mushroom
flavors or mild spices often referred to as “Oriental flavor”.
From The Book of Ramen Copyright © 1995 by Ron Konzak -- All Rights