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!

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What are the different types of ramen?

There are 4 main types of Japanese ramen 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, 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. 2
Nissin Cup Noodle Ramen Noodle Soup, Curry, 2.8 Ounce (Pack of 6)
  • AUTHENTIC JAPANESE CURRY NOODLES loaded with savory pork and topped with hearty pieces of diced carrots, potatoes and green leeks
  • THE #1 CURRY INSTANT NOODLES IN JAPAN! Loved by the Japanese for over 40 years
  • NO ADDED MSG and no artificial flavors
  • MICROWAVABLE IN 2.5 MINUTES
  • FOR THE CREAMIEST CURRY, follow the directions on the cup
Bestseller No. 3
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. 4
Menraku Authentic Japanese Ramen Noodle Bowls Deluxe Classic Series in Multiple Flavors, Miso, Seafood Tonkotsu, Miso Tonkotsu, Original Tonkotsu, Seafood Shio and Shoyu (Pack of 12)
  • 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.

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...

SaleBestseller No. 1
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. 2
Koyo Reduced Sodium Vegan Organic Noodle Ramen 3 Flavor 9 Bag Variety Bundle: (3) Garlic Pepper, (3) Asian Vegetable, and (3) Tofu Miso, 2.1 Oz Ea (9 Tot)
  • Packaging may vary; Made with Organic Noodles; 25-45% Less Sodium than regular Koyo Ramen
  • No Additives. No Fillers. No MSG
  • Ready in 4 Minutes
  • Convenient 3 flavor sampler - 3 packages of each - is a great way to try before comitting to a case
  • This item is not a manufacturer-created variety pack and will not be sent in the original manufacturer’s packaging
SaleBestseller No. 3
Annie Chun's Peanut Sesame Noodle Bowl | Non-GMO, Vegan, Shelf-Stable, 8.7 Ounce (Pack of 6) | Thai-Style Microwaveable Ready Meal
  • Delicious Noodles - Thai-inspired peanut sesame sauce combined with pre-cooked delicious Hokkien noodles
  • NON-GMO Project Verified! Healthy - Low saturated Fat, no trans fat, and no cholesterol; Smart alternative to instant food;
  • #1 Selling Brand of Asian Specialty Single-Serve Entrees [Source: IRI Total US - MULO, Latest 52 Weeks Ending 3/22/2020]
  • Convenient - heat in microwave and get ready to eat in just 2 minutes
  • Made in USA - Includes (6) 8.7-Oz container
Bestseller No. 4
Campbell's Low Sodium Soup, Chicken with Noodles, 10.75 Oz (Pack of 12)
  • A timeless, low in sodium soup crafted with seasoned chicken broth, chicken meat with no antibiotics, carrots and enriched egg noodles
  • Low sodium soup for sodium restricted diets
  • Ready to serve just heat and eat
  • Stock this soup to add variety to your sodium restricted diet
  • M'm! M'm! Good
SaleBestseller No. 5
Koyo Ramen Soup, Tofu Miso Reduced Sodium, Made With Organic Noodles, No MSG, No Preservatives, Vegan, 2.1 Ounces 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!

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! 


Last update on 2021-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API