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#130 Ramen Noodles

Posted January 11th, 2010 by Peter · 23 Comments

“It’s fast, cheap, yummy, and everywhere,” says Masako Fukui of Kei’s Kitchen (speaking about Japan’s greatest innovation of the 20th century– no joke). Believe it or not, even though these wavy egg noodles in broth are now ubiquitous with Japan; it had origins in China long before that (over four thousand years to be exact).

ramen760How did this come about, though?

In 1665, the first ever account of “Lamian” consumption was made by Japanese Feudal Lord Tokugawa Mitsukuni. From the late 19th to 20th centuries, spurred by imperial aspirations, technological advances, and a post-WWII food shortage; Lamian became an instant (pun intended) hit in Japan.

Quick Japanese 101: Lamian, Lamen, and Ramen are the same thing. There is no distinction between the “L” and “R” sounds. Lamian is Japanese for “stretched, pulled, or elongated noodles.” Thus, we now call Lamian, Ramen.

Soldiers and lay people alike could have been found slurping Ramen noodles (much like college students today) during the Meiji Period because they were a great source of calories, easily portable, and provided warmth (did I mention they were extremely cheap?). Thus, the Japanese transformed a Chinese peasant meal into a cultural symbol.


Only in the past 60 years has Ramen become an international and (and Asian) sensation. Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods is responsible for the globalization and westernization of Ramen. In 1958, he invented our modern day “instant cup noodles.” In 1972, these noodles came across the Pacific Ocean (and all over the world) under the guise of “Top Ramen (Maruchan)” and “Oodles of Noodles.”

Today, Asians and people around the world consume over 85 billion Ramen meals a year. That amounts to about $10 billion dollars worth of Ramen purchases — more than the nominal GDPs of over 67 countries worldwide (Cambodia grosses 10.82 billion dollars a year and is ranked 123 in the world).
Thus, Ramen could very easily be the answer to both feeding and sustaining third-world countries for years to come (though we all know Asians are far too stingy with money to let that happen).

Instant Ramen flavors ranging from classic beef, chicken, and pork; to more bizarre flavors such as “salsa picante shrimp” are becoming available every day. If you want more authentic taste, we here at SAPL recommend a visit to Maru Ichi.


If you want to be immersed in Ramen history, you can see the Ramen Museum in Shin-Yokohama, Japan. You will definitely be blown away by the wheat, mineral water, salt, and mineral water that go into every meal. =)

With that said: Due to innovation in the face of adversity, the Japanese have turned Ramen noodles into a worldwide Asian phenomenon. That’s why, SAPL readers, #130 Ramen Noodles are Stuff Asian People Like.

“Named the greatest “made in Japan” invention of the 20th century, in front of the karaoke and headphone stereos, in a Japanese poll made by the The Fuji Research Institute Corporation, instant ramen became a Japanese cultural icon,” adds Ramenlicious.

Sources: Kei’s Kitchen (2008) and The Daily Orange.

On another note, if you want some Ramen in the comfort of your home, check out what our friends at are doing. Have you ever wished that you didn’t have to buy Ramen in bulk? Their service offers Ramen like never before– combining the largest selection of Ramen and convenience into a box (literally). You can choose from their huge database of Ramen flavors, healthy alternatives, and have suggested flavors sent to your email (if you’re feeling adventurous).

Your own customized RamenBox is then sent to your home. With every RamenBox order, you get everything you need to eat your Ramen as well. Napkins, Chopsticks, even Chili Sauce are included for “the best noodle experience ever.”

Gone are the days of looking for utensils in the middle of the night when you have a paper due the next morning. Plus– how awesome would it be if your friends came over and saw a custom box of Ramen on your counter? If you really want to be Asian, we here in the SAPL family  suggest you give RamenBox a try.

SAPL EXCLUSIVE: Our friends at RamenBox have offered a 10% discount code for Stuff Asian People Like Readers! Just type “stuffasianslike” as your discount code, and 10% will be taken off your order. If you’ve already ordered, 10% is being taken off your order as we speak.

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Tags: Activities · Business · Chinese · Cuisine · Food & Beverage · History · Humor · Japanese · People · Products · Relationships · Travel · Work

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 eric // Jan 13, 2010 at 1:29 am

    “lamian” is chinese for “pulled noodles.”
    “ramen/lamen” is the japanese pronunciation of the chinese.

  • 2 Peter // Jan 13, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Thanks, eric

  • 3 George Shih // Jan 13, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Just ordered one! thanks peter!

  • 4 europeanchick // Jan 13, 2010 at 9:17 am

    i love ramen and all kind of asian \pasta\! :) i wish we had more places to get noodles here in central europe…of course we have many chinese buffets but the stuff they sell is ususally not that authentic, as they try to make it similar to our national food. :( that ramenbox’d be cool to have here too

  • 5 kvietgrl // Jan 14, 2010 at 3:10 am

    i love ramen! and i just got my ramenbox…anticipating its arrival! thanks peter =)

  • 6 Peter // Jan 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    @kvietgrl, it definitely is tasty!

  • 7 Matt // Jan 26, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Ramen are not egg noodles. They are wheat noodles treated with alkaline salts (kansui) to make them yellow and give the chewy texture.

  • 8 Peter // Jan 28, 2010 at 2:30 am

    @Matt, Thanks!

  • 9 AthenaTT // Mar 6, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    My husband ordered me the Large Ramen Box (from Ramenbox) as a surprise… it was FANTASTIC! I’m knee deep in wonderful and diverse ramen and loving every minute of it!!

  • 10 Chinamerican // May 7, 2010 at 8:31 am


    I believe it’s similar with Chinese wonton noodles – they are treated with lye (caustic soda) which make them yellow. German pretzels also get their yellow crust this way.

    Also, Maru Ichi is fantastic. Ryowa on Villa isn’t bad either.

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