Along with sushi, ramen is the Japanese food you’ll find on the must-eat list of nearly every traveler to Japan
Ramen is a Japanese adaptation of Chinese wheat noodles. One theory says that ramen was first introduced to Japan during the 1660s The more plausible theory is that ramen was introduced by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th or early 20th century at Yokohama Chinatown. According to the record of the Yokohama Ramen Museum, ramen originated in China and made its way over to Japan in 1859.
But asking which ramen-ya (ramen shop) has the best ramen in Tokyo (or Japan) is akin to asking which pizzeria in New York has the best slice, or which taqueria in Mexico City makes the best tacos.
Despite ramen’s rising reputation, until fairly recently the word ramen (at least outside of Japan) was synonymous with instant ramen: the iconic Cup Noodles made famous worldwide.
• 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skin-on)*
• kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to season
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• 2 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
• 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
• 3 tsp fresh garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 tbsp mirin
• 4 cups rich chicken stock
• 1/2 cup fresh shitake mushrooms
• 1–2 tsp sea salt, to taste
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup scallions, sliced
• 2 packs dried ramen noodles
Cook the chicken*: Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown and releases easily from the pan, about 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until golden. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil until ready to serve.
Make the ramen broth: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the soy sauce and mirin, and stir to combine. Cook for another minute. Add the stock, cover, and bring to boil. Remove the lid, and let simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, then add the dried mushrooms. Simmer gently for another 10 minutes, and season with salt, to taste.
Make the soft-boiled eggs: Fill a pot with enough water to cover the eggs, and bring to a boil. Gently lower the eggs (still cold from the fridge) into the boiling water, and let simmer for 7 minutes (for a slightly-runny yoke) or 8 minutes (for a soft, but set-up yoke).
Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. When the timer finishes, transfer the eggs to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Wait at least 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, then carefully peel away the shell and slice in half, lengthwise. Set aside until ready to serve.
Assemble the ramen bowls: Meanwhile, chop the scallions and jalapeño (if using). Slice the chicken into thin pieces. Set aside. When the eggs finish cooking, add the ramen noodles to the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft, then divide the noodles into two large bowls. Add the sliced chicken and the ramen broth. Top with the fresh scallions, jalapeño and the soft boiled egg. Serve immediately.
Japan has many flavors and traditions.