Most people picture a comforting bowl of noodle soup when ramen is mentioned. It consists of a flavoursome broth with noodles and vegetables or meat in it, often garnished with coriander and a lemon wedge. Ramen bowls are usually big and filled to the brim. And so, if you’ve ordered ramen at a restaurant, you know it’s likely that some of the soup might spill as your server brings you your bowl of wholesome goodness. 

Japanese automobile company Nissan has developed a gadget that zooms around restaurant tabletops to bring customers their ramen without spilling it. Called the ‘e-4ORCE Ramen Counter’, the self-driven delivery car consists of a wooden platform atop a white body with four wheels. The car travels at a good speed, starting from when the chef places a bowl of ramen on it, and comes to a halt in front of the customer who has ordered the dish, but still doesn’t spill a drop.

This has been made possible with Nissan’s e-4ORCE technology, which involves two separate motors: one for the front and the other for the rear axle. The system controls acceleration and braking precisely, ensuring that no liquid flows out of the bowl placed on top of the tiny car. 

A brief history of ramen

The noodle soup that now has a delivery mechanism for it to reach customers efficiently was actually called ‘Chinese soba’ in Japan until the 1950s. It is believed that Chinese immigrants settled in Kobe, Nagasaki and Yokohama sold ramen from carts, which made a cheap lunch for the working class. However, ramen’s popularity reached its peak after the Second Sino-Japanese war, as Japanese troops came back to Japan with a fondness for Chinese food. During that time, ramen was called the ‘dragon noodle’. 

The word ramen first came to be known in the Taisho era. The first ramen shop was called Rai Rai Ken. Located in Tokyo, Lai Lai served ramen with bonito and kelp broth, with chicken or pork bone soup. The dish later came to be identified with Tokyo. 

With time, the identity of ramen went from being easy and cheap to gourmet. Ramen houses opened across Japan in the 90s to cater to both locals and travellers. This is when the dish became fashionable. Now, ramen is popular all over the world with multiple restaurants offering it. Although it was popularised by the Japanese, it has garnered a global following.