From The Streets To The Elite: The Story Of Your Favourite Ramen
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Ramen is a classic Japanese noodle soup meal that is enjoyed all over the world. The dish comprises a broth base, long thin wheat noodles, and a variety of toppings, though there are thousands of variations. This dish is immensely popular and is loved by people in every corner. Ramen has certainly become a lot more mainstream in recent years with the access to the internet and other facilities that enable people to know and try the food and cuisines from different countries. Here’s a brief origin of the famous soup noodle dish.

Many people believe that the first ramen meal served in a restaurant was created in Japan, although this is not the truth. According to The New Yorker, George Solt, a professor at New York University, has done substantial research into the origins of the famous soup. Solt determined that ramen originated in China in the 19th century as a result of his research. The soup was brought to Japan by Chinese traders.

By 1900, Chinese restaurants in Canton and Shanghai were selling a simple ramen dish consisting of noodles (cut rather than hand-drawn), a few garnishes, and a stock seasoned with salt and pork bones. Many Chinese immigrants in Japan set up food carts, selling ramen and gyza dumplings to labourers. By the mid-nineteenth century, these food cart proprietors were using a musical horn known as an acharumera to advertise their carts, a technique that a few merchants continue to do today, though they now utilise a loudspeaker and looping recording. 

Ramen did not become widely popular until the 1950s. According to Solt's research, the Rai-Rai Ken restaurant in Tokyo was the first to serve ramen to the Japanese. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1910, using Chinese cooks who prepared a popular meal known as "shina soba." "Shina" means "China," while "soba" refers to a noodle meal. Because it was cheap and satisfying, the dish grew popular among blue-collar workers. However, it took decades for it to reach the general public.

During World War II, Japan experienced food shortages and starvation. The government enacted stricter food rules, prohibiting restaurants from profiting from their meals, a rule that was in effect until 1949. (via First We Feast). However, because of the illicit market, people were able to obtain wheat flour and so enjoy ramen in secret. It was reintroduced as an elite cuisine for Japanese households in the 1950s and quickly became popular. As they say, the rest is history.