Ramen, the dish of noodles and broth, has to be up there as one of Japan’s most famous and well-loved culinary pillars. Depending on which part of the archipelago you visit, you can sample an abundance of regional variations – a result of local preferences, distinct ingredients and traditional recipes.
According to one legend, champon ramen, characteristic for its one-pot cooking method, was created in 1899 by a Chinese restaurant owner to feed homesick Chinese students in Nagasaki.
Swimming atop this southern iteration is a generous addition of mayu (black garlic oil) and fried garlic chips, subtly lending an extra layer of fragrance.
In this version combining the two Japanese favourites of nabe (hotpot) and ramen, thin noodles are accompanied by an umami-rich soup and served in an earthen pot that keeps it nice and hot.
Despite its name, this ramen was in fact conceived locally in the ’70s – though supposedly by a Taiwanese chef as a simple meal for his restaurant staff. Spicy ground pork, Chinese chives and green onions are at the centre of the dish.
Imagine a semi-deconstructed ramen – thicker noodles are served cold, alongside a separate bowl of broth that’s denser and more intense than the usual. Diners dip the noodles at their own pleasure.
Sapporo miso ramen
Fermented soybean paste is infused in the broth, giving it a rich, tangy flavour that’s perfect for the cold weather found in the northern reaches of Japan. Homemade miso is often used, guaranteeing unique flavours in different establishments.
The best thing since sliced bread?
The katsu sando – breaded pork or beef cutlet sandwich – has long been a staple in Japanese convenience stores, but it’s now debuting in fancy eateries worldwide. It gets a serious upgrade at New York’s Don Wagyu, where rare Ozaki beef tenderloin is breaded with panko, deep-fried, stuffed between slices of toast and served with nori-dusted fries. The price tag? An eye-watering US$180.
Starting this month, Business Class customers on selected Singapore Airlines flights between Singapore and Tokyo (Haneda and Narita) and Osaka can look forward to enjoying Keisuke Ramen’s signature ramen inflight as part of a six-month collaboration. The ramen dishes will also be available for pre-order via the Book the Cook (BTC) service for First Class, and Business Class customers on flights that are four hours and above.
Singapore Airlines flies to Osaka and Tokyo daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine