Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ramen (Mad Ravings From A Ramen Addict)

I am absolutely addicted to eating ramen to the point of being obsessed by it and it dates back to the time I visited Japan and saw how imbedded in the Japanese culture it was.

It's not just a cheap dish they eat but a way of life and the endless varieties available blew my mind.

I was only in Japan for 5 days but must have eaten it over 10 times easily and never once did I receive the same variety twice (not that I knew what I was ordering because it was all in Japanese and I don't speak or read a word of it).

So if you love ramen half as much as I do you'll enjoy this post.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ramen

These are the mad ravings from a ramen addict and all your frequently asked questions answered...

First, what is ramen?

Generally speaking, ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that combines a tasty broth with different types of noodles, vegetables, meat and garnish.

Most ramen dishes come with noodles, meat such as chicken or pork, and a boiled egg on the top. 

Ramen noodles are an extremely popular dish for their warming properties, and comforting flavors.

You can also alter your ramen to suit your tastes by changing the flavor of the broth, or using a different meat such as beef or even shrimp!

What are the different types of ramen?

There are 4 main types of Japanese ramen (and many more different types of ramen toppings you can add) and they are decided by the base flavour (known as the "tare") and they are as follows...

  • Shio - salt based.
  • Shoyu - soy based.
  • Tonkotsu - pork bone broth based.
  • Miso - Soybean based.

Other regional varieties include...

  • Kagoshima Ramen - pork bone based with chicken, sardines and vegetables.
  • Hakodate Ramen - salt based with seaweed and seafood.
  • Okinawa - Udon noodles but in a ramen broth.
  • Nagoya - ground meat and spicy
  • Sapporo - seafood based miso ramen.

What are the nutrition facts about Ramen noodles?

Nutrition Data states the following nutrition facts about a typical pack of instant Ramen...

  • Calories: 188
  • Total fat: 7 grams
  • Carbs: 27 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Sodium: 891 grams

A fresh ramen noodle soup may be much healthier than a pack of instant noodles however. 

How many calories in a bowl of ramen?

Healthline states their are 188 calories in a typical bowl of Ramen.

Is Ramen a soup?

Yes, ramen is a Japanese noodle broth soup dish usually served with meat (typically sliced pork) and vegetables often flavoured with soy sauce and miso. 

What flavour is ramen?

The typical Ramen is a salty and light flavoured pork bone broth and will often have a base of Soy or Miso.

If you're buying Instant Ramen Noodles then you may have flavours like "Spicy Chicken" or "Beef" or "Hot and Spicy" that contain a long list of preservatives, artificial flavours, and other ingredients such as soy sauce, chilli flakes, chicken flavouring, ginger (which can be juiced), garlic and stock.

What are ramen noodles made of?

Ramen noodles are made from wheat, water, flour and salt. Some ramen noodles may also use eggs. 

Is ramen gluten free?

Ramen noodles are NOT gluten free as they contain wheat and Soy sauce which contains gluten.

GlutenFreeOnAShoeString reports that "King Soba brand and Lotus Foods brands brown rice ramen are gluten free ramen noodle brands"

Can you eat Raw ramen?

It depends...

Yes, you can eat packets of uncooked ramen instant noodles without harm as it is NOT dangerous due to the noodle nests being pre-cooked but it will not taste good and has no nutritional value.

However, no it's NOT a good idea to eat raw "fresh" noodles because they may contain egg and be uncooked.

How do you cook ramen?

The typical Ramen most people are eating is the cheap instant noodles that just require you to add water and let sit for a few minutes till the solid noodles mix with the boiling water.

If you are without a kettle or a way to boil water on a hob then simply add your ramen to a microwavable bowl and then microwave.

However, if you are cooking fresh noodles and making a soup from scratch consult the packet instructions as they will all be different.

Do ramen noodles expire?

The typical pack of ramen instant noodles will have a 6 month expiry date but always check the label first before eating as each manufacturer will be different.

Once near or past the expiry date they typically will not taste good and will have deteriorated.

What are the spiciest ramen noodles?

Samyang Foods from South Korea apparently released the worlds spiciest brand of instant noodles in 2017 called "Hek Buldak Extra Spicy Roasted Chicken Ramen".

They have a rating of about 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (a way to measure spice and heat intensity) which compared to the hottest hot chilli pepper which is the Carolina Reaper, with a Scoville rating of 2.2 million seems quite tame in comparison.

What is tonkotsu ramen?

Tonkotsu ramen is simply ramen broth made from pork bone that is boiled for several hours before noodles, thinly sliced meat using Japanese knifes and Asian vegetables are added to the broth and served in a Japanese noodle soup bowl as ramen.

What is shoyu ramen?

Shoyu ramen is ramen served with a broth made specifically with Soy sauce. 

Shoyu" is the name for Japanese style Soy sauce. 

Kikkoman is an example of a Japanese Soy sauce brand that fits this style.

What is miso ramen?

Miso is fermented soy bean paste and when used in ramen it simply is added to the "base" of the broth used in the noodle soup.

It differs from the traditional salt or soy sauce based ramen base. 

What is tan tan ramen or Tantanmen ramen?

Tan tan  (aka Tantanmen) includes sesame paste which isn't typically found in standard Japanese noodle broths. 

Tan tan is a little spicy but without being overwhelming.

What is shio ramen?

Shio is the Japanese word for "salt" so it's a salt based noodle broth dish that is typically yellow in appearance.

Like most ramens it will typically be served with noodles, meat and vegetables.

What is the swirly thing in ramen? Aka Narutomaki.

Narutomaki is a type of cured fish known as surimi and it has a pink and white spiral pattern, it's often placed on top of noodle and noodle soup dishes. 

It's 100% edible and a healthy food with lots of protein and calcium.

What is oriental flavor ramen?

Oriental flavour ramen was simply a previous name for a Maruchan brand of instant noodles, it's now known as "Soy Sauce" flavour.

Ramen vs pho – what’s the difference and which is better?

Pho (pronounced "Fho") is a Vietnamese noodle soup dish with a light, clear, herbal broth typically with rice noodles.

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish with a thicker and cloudier broth usually served with wheat noodles.

Both are similar in that they are both noodle soup dishes but they differ in taste, typically Ramen packs more of a meaty and hearty taste whereas Pho is light and refreshing. 

Which is better comes down to personal taste but for me Ramen wins every time as I prefer the thicker, meatier, saltier broth.

You can see the types of Pho dishes and other Asian cookware I like here.

tsukemen vs ramen – what’s the difference?

Tuskemen is a noodle soup dish served cold, with a thicker sauce or broth served on the side for dipping the noodles into. It's a summer dish for warmer weather.

Ramen is a hot noodle soup dish, with a lighter broth, and typically eaten in winter.

ramen vs udon – what’s the difference?

Udon noodles are thicker and wider than ramen noodles, they have a springy like taste to.

Ramen noodles are chewier and smoother than Udon noodles.

The Udon soup or broth is delicate, light, and savory.

Whereas the ramen soup is thicker, meatier, and saltier.

ramyun vs ramen – what’s the difference?

Ramyun is Korean instant noodles and Ramen is Japanese instant noodles. 

They are both similar dishes but just from different countries.

shoyu vs miso ramen – what’s the difference?

Shoyu is soy sauced based ramen where as miso is ramen made from miso paste.

Depending on which type of ramen you order will depend on how the base broth (or "tare" in Japanese) will be made.

Miso ramen originated in Hokkaido.

ramen vs soba – what’s the difference?

Soba noodles are usually made from buckwheat and ramen noodles are made from wheat flour. 

Udon noodles are thick and chewy and ramen noodles are thinner.

saimin vs ramen noodles – what’s the difference?

Samin noodles are made using more eggs than ramen noodles which makes them chewier and thicker compared to ramens thin noodles.

somen vs ramen – what’s the difference?

Somen noodles are extremely thin, made from wheat, and white in colour and usually served chilled with a dipping sauce.

Ramen noodles are thing, but still thicker than Somen noodles, made from wheat, and served in a hot broth soup.

Maruchan vs Top Ramen – what’s the best?

This one is purely down to personal preference but this Quora thread had a pretty even split in opinions and in this Reddit thread Maruchan wins but not by much.

What are the best Japanese Instant Ramen?

Below are a selection of bestselling Japanese instant ramen brands from Amazon...

Bestseller No. 1
MENRAKU AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RAMEN NOODLE BOWLS DELUXE CLASSIC SERIES, Multiple Assorted Joyful Bundle Value Packs, Miso, Seafood Tonkotsu, Miso Tonkotsu, Original Tonkotsu, Seafood Shio and Shoyu (Pack of 10)
  • Menraku Japanese Ramen Soy Sauce: This ramen has a light soy sauce based soup with katuso stock. The “tare” sauce you put in just before you eat really brings out the umami of the soup.
  • Menraku Japanese Ramen Miso: This ramen has a full bodied taste with its aromatic miso, sesame, and Chinese fava bean chilli paste (Tobanjan). The rich miso paste you put in just before you eat forms the final taste.
  • Menraku Japanese Ramen Tonkotsu: Only with pork bone soup would you get the full bodied taste featured in this ramen. Enjoy a garlic and onion aroma with a delicious sesame aftertaste.
  • Menraku Japanese Ramen Shio (Salt): The umami of the vegetable and seafood stock in this salt flavored ramen are key to its taste. The sesame oil based flavoring oil accentuates the umami in the soup stock.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Japanese populer Ramen "ICHIRAN" instant noodles tonkotsu 5 meals(Japan Import)
  • ICHIRAN Ramen Hakata-style Thin Straight
  • including Original Red Dry Sauce
  • 5 serving pack
  • (Japan Import)
Bestseller No. 3
AUTHENTIC JAPANESE SPICY RAMEN NOODLE BOWLS ASSORTED SERIES, Experience 5 Kinds of Japanese Spicy RamenUmai Rich Soup Base, Multiple Flavors by Joyful Bundle, Garlic Spicy and Hot, Spicy Miso Tonkotsu, Spicy Sesame, Sichuan Inspired Spicy Sesame,Flaming Oil Miso (Pack of 10)
  • Menraku Japanese Ramen Spicy Sesame: Spicy dandan-style instant ramen from the popular Menraku series. The miso-flavored soup is blended with various spices and enriched with the bold sesame flavor.
  • Menraku Sichuan-Inspired Spicy Sesame: Popular in Japan, this instant ramen is Sichuan-style “soupless” with spicy sauce made with miso and accented by Japanese peppers. It has a rich taste of miso and sesame.
  • Menraku Spicy Miso Tonkotsu Taste: This instant ramen features soup blended with miso and rich tonkotsu (pork bone) flavor, one of the popular flavors at ramen shops. It offers an authentic Japanese ramen taste and adds a kick with a separate chili oil packet.
  • Menraku Hot and Spicy: Strong chili flavor with Miso and fried garlic
Bestseller No. 5
[SAPPORO ICHIBAN] Yakisoba, No.1 Tasting Instant Japanese Fried Noodles, Delicious Chow Mein (3.6 Oz. x 24 packs) | 24 Pack Case
  • JAPAN’S NO.1 BEST SELLING POUCH RAMEN - In 1966, Sapporo Ichiban was founded to bring flavorsome, traditionally inspired ramen to all. Since then, Sapporo Ichiban ramen has become the most popular instant pouch ramen in Japan. Now discover our delicious and authentic tasting instant Japanese yakisoba.
  • TRADITIONAL FLAVOR IN MINUTES - Yakisoba is a popular fried noodle dish from Japan. Ramen noodles are fried and mixed with the seasoning packet of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and spices, and lastly topped with dried seaweed. This savory food is ready in minutes and makes a great main dish.
  • FLAVORFUL YAKISOBA - Sapporo Ichiban yakisoba is a delicious meal or snack. Chewy fried noodles are seasoned by a perfect blend of Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and a combination of spices. The included seasoning packet of dried seaweed adds traditional flavor and color to the dish.
  • EASY TO COOK - Sapporo Ichiban yakisoba can be quickly prepared for a meal or snack. Simply boil water in a skillet, place the noodles in the water, and cook for 2 minutes. When the noodles are separated and water has been absorbed, stir in the seasoning packet. Sprinkle with the dried seaweed and serve.
  • SIMPLY DELICIOUS - The rich and flavorful sauce blends with the noodles further enhancing its taste. The included seasoning packet of dried seaweed adds flavor and color to the dish.

What are the best low sodium ramen noodles?

Here are a selection of the best low sodium ramen noodles on Amazon for people who can't eat a lot of salt or sodium content...

Bestseller No. 1
Maruchan Ramen Less Sodium Chicken, 3.0 Oz, Pack of 24
  • COOKS IN 3 MINUTES: Cooking Directions: 1.) Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan, add noodles and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally. 2.) Turn off heat, add contents of seasoning packet, stir well for 1 minute until seasoning is fully dissolved. Makes 2, 8 oz. servings. 3.) Product is very hot. Allow to cook, serve and enjoy.
  • PACKED WITH FLAVOR: 25% less sodium chicken flavor. A healthier take on a classic. This ramen may be lower in sodium but definitely not in flavor. Try this health-conscious option today.
  • FAMILY FAVORITE: Maruchan ramen is one of the nation's favorite ramen soup brands. Maruchan offers a wide variety of delicious Ramen flavors including less sodium Ramen and authentic ethnic flavor products. Maruchan Ramen makes a creative addition to any recipe. The possibilities are endless.
  • GREAT COLLEGE GIFT: Ramen is a staple snack for college kids so help feed their late-night study cravings with Maruchan ramen! Send a snack care package to your college student.
  • SIZE: 24 pack/count of 3 oz units
Bestseller No. 2
Koyo Ramen Soup, Asian Vegetable Reduced Sodium, Made With Organic Noodles, No MSG, No Preservatives, Vegan, 2.1 Ounce Per Package (12 Pack)
  • Savory broth packets contain clean and simple ingredients with real herbs and spices, and no added MSG or high fructose corn syrup unlike many other Soba, Udon, or Ramen noodles
  • Ramen noodles are expertly crafted from freshly milled, organic heirloom grains in the traditional roll-and-cut method, and then baked (not fried) to perfection making them low fat
  • Made with the highest quality ingredients – Non-GMO, vegan, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Use as a base to your noodle bowl or salad creations and top with meat, tofu, eggs, bok choy, bean sprouts, fresh ginger and garlic, nori, kimchi and more
  • Quick and convenient Asian food for all cooking levels – ready in less than 6 minutes!
Bestseller No. 3
Karman Foods Ramen Noodles - Miso Soup - Rice Noodles - Instant Ramen - Instant Noodle - Low Sodium Soup - Healthy Noodle - Ramen Noodle Bowl - Organic Ramen Noodles
  • ❇️ QUALITY INGREDIENTS: Savor the delicious subtle taste of our miso ramen soup made in the USA, with quality ingredients that are lightly seasoned for the perfect healthy ramen and vegetarian ramen option.
  • ❇️ QUICK & SATISFYING: Experience the convenience of our low sodium Japanese ramen noodles, offering a quick and satisfying meal for those who want to enjoy the authentic taste of miso ramen noodle soup.
  • ❇️ LOWER SODIUM & HEALTHY: Enjoy the convenience of our instant miso soup, Japanese soup, and cup soup ramen made with reduced sodium, perfect for those on a reduced sodium diet who want a healthy and delicious meal.
  • ❇️ SIMPLE & EASY: Satisfy your cravings with our miso cup instant soup and Asian soup, offering a simple and easy way to enjoy authentic miso ramen noodle soup flavors. Perfect for anyone short on time.
  • ❇️ HEALTHY & DELICIOUS: Enjoy our low calorie ramen and instant ramen no MSG, featuring gluten-free options that are both healthy and delicious. Perfect for anyone looking for a guilt-free way to enjoy the authentic taste of miso ramen noodle soup.
Bestseller No. 4
Bulk gluten free ramen noodles low sodium ramen (48 pieces) plain ramen noodles. Japanese healthy ramen noodles from brown rice. Restaurant grade.
  • Gluten Free Ramen noodles Japanese restaurant quality
  • Plain ramen noodles with no seasoning
  • Restaurant pre-soak suitable
  • Chewy texture low sodium ramen noodles made from brown rice
  • Low Sodium only 1 mg
Bestseller No. 5
Dr. McDougall's Vegan Chicken Soup - Chicken Noodle Soup - Organic Ramen Noodle Cups - Low Sodium Vegan Soup with Instant Noodles - 1.4 Ounces - Pack of 6
  • 100% Plant Based & Vegan Chicken Instant Noodle Cup: a lower sodium soup, of your favorite classic chicken noodle, you won't miss the sodium or meat in this perfectly seasoned soup cup of noodles. This is guilt free comfort food that tastes as good as homemade in an instant.
  • Quick, Easy, Tastes Great: Perfectly seasoned, this tasty nutritious meal is sure to become a staple for work or quick weeknight dinners; Move over, canned soup; you'll want to clear some prime pantry space for your new favorite Dr McDougall's vegan soup.
  • Just Add Water And Serve: It doesn't get any more convenient than Dr. McDougall's instant noodles; Add hot water to cup or bowl and serve for a delicious, satisfying vegan meal with no added oil that supports your healthy, busy lifestyle, and tastes homemade.
  • Try All Our Flavors: We've got you covered with a wide variatey of vegan instant soup options. Try Spring Onion, Black Bean & Lime, Miso Ramen, Pad Thai, Hot & Sour, Split Pea or one of our other flavors. We even offer lower sodium options and Gluten-Free for those with diet restrictions.
  • Dr. Mcdougall: Committed to nourishing not just your body, but the environment as well; That's why all our paper packaging is from sustainably managed forests and that's why we make products that are organic, vegan, plant based, and non GMO verified.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ramen

So I hope this has answered all your ramen questions and you can see that I am indeed an absolute Japanese Ramen noodle soup addict. 

Enjoy your ramen!