IN JAPAN Ramen is an art form.
The hearty noodle soup dish is certainly not a fast food. The noodles alone can be aged for up to ten days in a cool place, while the aromatic stock—meat, vegetable, or seafood—containing up to 40 ingredients can be simmered for hours.
The perfect ramen has been developed over centuries. It is thought missionaries brought ramen from China to Japan in the 17th century – but it was not until 1910 that Japan’s first dedicated ramen shop—Rairaiken—opened in Tokyo.
During the 20th century Japan fell in love with the ramen and today the country boasts more than 30 regional varieties of ramen, and nearly 4,000 places sell it in Tokyo alone.
Inevitably, anything so successful is always going to be exported, and the ramen is no different.
In 21st century Britain the ramen is for most associated with Wagamama – the pan-Asian chain in the style of a modern Japanese ramen bar.
Now while it would be unfair to expect ‘art’ from a restaurant chain, Wagamama has spent two decades plus perfecting its own take on the ramen, and one has to say the result is pretty good.
Served in a traditional black bowl with large wooden spoon, the Leamington restaurant offers a choice of eight – chicken, chilli chicken, sirloin steak, seafood, grilled duck, pork, yasai – a traditional Japanese omelette with tofu and mixed mushrooms – and
a wagamama special of grilled chicken, barbecued pork, prawns, chikuwa and mussels in a miso, ginger and chicken noodle soup. topped with half a tea-stained egg.
Purists may scoff, but the Wagamama ramen is tasty, filling, and good value. If there is a quibble then the coriander could do with being chopped a little finer, but otherwise there’s little to quibble about.
Visit www.wagamama.com for further details.