Periodically I get emails and comments asking me to post a recipe for one thing or another, usually something Japanese. I try to do so (eventually) with most things, though it may take a while between request and actual writeup since I try to make sure that if I do write it up, it will actually work. One of the things I’ve been asked about a lot is ramen, probably because it’s so ubiquitous in Japan, and so tasty. Since it’s usually served as a sort of fast food, and because the instant and cup-noodle varieties are well, so instant, people may assume that it’s not hard to make.
But ramen is one of those foods that takes a lot of preparation, ingredients, and skill to really make properly. If you’ve ever seen the movie Tampopo  (the best food movie of all time ), where the eponymous heroine goes through many trials to perfect her ramen skills, you will have a general idea of what’s involved. While not all ramen-ya may use pig’s heads and the like to make their soup, a properly made ramen soup is deeply complex and does indeed use a lot of things like pork bones, whole chicken carcasses, and more. It makes sense to make such a soup in large, commercial quantities, but for the home kitchen? I’m not sure.
In Japan there are lots of readymade ramen preparations which are several steps above the instant kind. Some of those readymade soups and noodles are really pretty good. Otherwise, people just go to their favorite ramen-ya for their noodle fix - there are whole books and magazine issues dedicated to just ramen. I’m hoping that real ramen becomes as popular around the world as sushi has, so that the pleasure of slurping a hot bowl of tasty noodle soup can be experienced more easily.
Until then though…I’ll probably content myself with the better varieties of instant at home, when I can afford the calorie hit. Though I’ve seen some pork ‘osso bucco’ at the supermarket recently…