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What's the difference between chinese and japanese rahmen?

kansai_mike Feb 9, 2007 09:53 PM

In Japan, rahmen is basically noodles, a chicken stock, green onions, and maybe chashu (smoked pork slices). Of course there are many variations but that is the basic. Is it the same in China? Or elsewhere?

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  1. h
    Humbucker RE: kansai_mike Feb 9, 2007 10:09 PM

    I'm not absolutely certain, but I don't think that there is such a thing as "Chinese ramen" in the sense that you could go to a Chinese restaurant and find a dish called ramen on the menu. Ramen (not the packaged stuff) is a Japanese food that has sort of evolved from Chinese noodles but I don't think there is one particular noodle dish that it descended from.

    1. m
      ML8000 RE: kansai_mike Feb 10, 2007 12:30 AM

      Ramen is the Japanese name for Chinese style noodles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ML8000
        Pei RE: ML8000 Feb 11, 2007 07:06 AM

        This has always been my impression as well. Ramen is the Japanese take on Chinese wheat noodles, which of course has taken a life of its own and is now very Japanese.

        In Chinese, it's pronounced "la mien" which literally means "pulled noodles." This indicates the style of noodle making, where one piece of dough is stretched out between the two hands at arms' length, doubled over, floured so it won't stick, pulled out again, etc. until the original ball of dough becomes hundreds of strands of noodles.

        Of course, most Americans would say "ramen" to talk about the Japanese version and "Chinese ramen" or "Chinese noodles" to indidate the Chinese version. The Chinese say "la mien" and "Japanese la mien." :)

      2. Silverjay RE: kansai_mike Feb 10, 2007 04:07 AM

        We've had some pretty involved discussions on Japanese ramen (where did the "h" come from?) in the last year. By the way, most good ramen shops these days in Japan use a mix of chicken, pork, and fish stock. Also, chashu is usually marinated, not smoked.



        6 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay
          applehome RE: Silverjay Feb 10, 2007 10:27 AM

          Several of the most famous brands of chashu/yakibuta sold in Japan are marinated and then cooked over charcoal - the effect being that of smoking. A lot of chashu has a smoke ring that is even more evident when placed in the soup. Obviously, there are hundreds of ways of doing yakibuta - the ones I've had made by the chefs at Izakaya's are marinated and pan-fried then put in the oven, and can be very good. But I've always thought that this was a limitation on their part (not having ready access to a charcoal smoking tool) and that the commercial product is almost always cooked over charcoal and thus smoked. Most ramen shops buy a commercial product, and these are mainly going to be cooked over charcoal.

          Here's an example - if you search for commericial yakibuta, almost all of them will be grilled and smoked to some degree:


          1. re: applehome
            Silverjay RE: applehome Feb 10, 2007 12:09 PM

            You're right. I had visions of a sausage/ham analogy by the original post. Though, the "sumi" smoking at ramen shops seems more of a finishing technique, with the bulk of flavor coming from the marinade...BTW, Koumen (光麺), a chain of shops close to my heart, does actually finish by smoking right in the shop when you place your order.

            1. re: applehome
              E Eto RE: applehome Feb 11, 2007 10:12 PM

              It's fairly standard to find non-smoked or non-roasted yakibuta at ramen shops in Japan. And it seems for the most part that the standard cooking method of most of the chashu you find at ramen shops will probably be marinating and braising in a shoyu-dare or the ramen broth itself. It seems that at most of the top ramen shops, the chashu is used as a flavor enhancing component in the cooking process (in the shoyu-dare, or the broth, etc.), rather than as simply a topping. Also as a more practical reason, roasting or smoking the chashu requires another set of cookware or appliances, where there may be little space in a kitchen besides burners and stockpots. In my few ramen cookbooks and on a few recipe websites I've seen, the chashu or yakibuta are cooked this way, while it seems that the yakibuta site in your link is more about yakibuta as a stand-alone dish. There are no hard and fast rules where ramen is involved, and I'm sure there are many smoked and roasted chashu versions out there, but it seems from my observations to be a minority. Here are a few recipe websites.

              http://ramen.yahoo.co.jp/recipe/ (click down to the recipes in the yellow boxes

              1. re: E Eto
                Silverjay RE: E Eto Feb 12, 2007 04:03 AM

                Nicely put. But don't you mean "chahshu"?

                1. re: Silverjay
                  SanseiDesigns RE: Silverjay Feb 15, 2007 06:11 PM

                  Char sui, chashu, char shu, chahshu - spelling depends on where you've seen it. It's all phoenetical for the same thing - bbq pork.

                  1. re: SanseiDesigns
                    Silverjay RE: SanseiDesigns Feb 15, 2007 07:34 PM

                    You point is exactly wrong for the Japenese iteration. In Japan the pork in ramen is not bbq, whatever it's Chinese/English transliteration may be. It's marinated/ braised and only occasionally finished for flavor over fire, but usually just grilled. Chinese "char shu", or whatever, is a different thing, nearly all together. It's often smoked/BBQued.

          2. bitsubeats RE: kansai_mike Feb 11, 2007 07:11 AM

            in korea, ramen is pronouced: rahm myun (or somewhat close to it). how is it pronounced in china and japan? also why is it spelled "ramen" when It isn't even pronounced that way?

            my boyfriend thinks I'm crazy everytime I say "rahm myun" or "rah myun"

            4 Replies
            1. re: bitsubeats
              Humbucker RE: bitsubeats Feb 11, 2007 09:56 AM

              In Japanese it's pronounced "ramen" with a rolled R. In Cantonese it's pronounced "lai meen".

              1. re: bitsubeats
                Polecat RE: bitsubeats Feb 16, 2007 05:22 AM

                There is actually no "R" in the Japanese language. The equivalent is somewhere between an "R" and an "L". (There is actually a restaurant, in NYC on University Place, that emphasizes the "L": Tokyo La Men) Having studied Japanese for a few years, my teachers taught that the correct pronunciation is achieved by putting the tongue on top of the pallete when pronouncing the first letter. There is also a longer accent on the first syllable, the "ra" being slightly more drawn out than the "men".

                The "Ramen" spelling is for the benefit of Westerners, I believe.

                1. re: Polecat
                  bitsubeats RE: Polecat Feb 16, 2007 12:47 PM

                  awesome, thanks.

                  sounds like the letter r and l is pronounced very similarly in the korean language.

                  so polecat, how do you pronounce it? r/lahhhhhh men?

                  1. re: bitsubeats
                    Polecat RE: bitsubeats Feb 16, 2007 01:43 PM

                    A little bit less time on the r/lahhhh, but, yeah, basically.

                    As I've been taught, not only at the Japan Society, but by my wife, who grew up in Japan, the r/l is a quick click of tongue to pallette, so it actually comes off sometimes like a very soft "d", but who am I to confuse the issue.

                    I believe a wise, wise sage once said, "It's one thing to pronounce it, and a whole other thing to eat it".

                    Slurp away.

              2. kansai_mike RE: kansai_mike Feb 11, 2007 05:21 PM

                I posted the question with the "h" in rahmen do to the pronunciation being different if I were to right ramen. "ah" in romanji is easier to ensure the "a" sound as in the "o" of top.

                I never even thought whether the chashu was smoked or marinated, I just assumed it was smoked due to the flavor. I wish I could find liquid smoke in Japan.

                I wonder if there is a similar dish n China such as Rahmen (ラーメン)in Japan.

                12 Replies
                1. re: kansai_mike
                  applehome RE: kansai_mike Feb 13, 2007 10:58 AM

                  Living in the Bahston area, I can certainly sympahsize with the desire to put in your own phonetic sounding extensions. But there are established pronunciations and spellings - even within Romaji (not Romanji). I would recommend a good J-E/E-J dictionary, perhaps one of the Kenkyusha Learner's versions. You won't find rahmen, but you will find ramen.

                  I always defer to Eto and others who have had a lot more and a lot more recent in-country eating experience than I do - I left Japan in 1962 and have only been back on a few special occasions and a couple of business trips. I have had very little opportunity, as an adult, to eat in different places - especially off the beaten path, although I have certainly never objected to the places my foodie relatives take me. Most certainly the majority of Ramen shops themselves do cook their own as he says - because as I said, I've seen my Izakaya chef friend do it - no sumi/charcoal. But I've seen the commercial wood-grilled products at the Japanese food stores, and I've seen some good ramen shops use the same type of product in ramen, not just as a separate dish, so clearly it's not that unusual.

                  I've spent a lot of time trying to perfect my own yakibuta, and have a good replicable recipe that has received accolades from Japanese friends and chefs alike. I even tried to turn it into a niche business - the stuff on the store shelves sells of $12.99/lb and more - and I figured that for a cheap piece of pork, it ought to be able to be done a lot cheaper. Unfortunately, I found the commercialization requirements to be far more expensive than a niche product by itself would support - that $12.99/lb looked cheap by the time I was done. So now I send it out (along with my pastrami) to my friends and relatives who keep asking for more, and make all that I want. It is good by itself, but it's great in ramen.

                  1. re: applehome
                    kansai_mike RE: applehome Feb 13, 2007 03:12 PM

                    Hi applehome. No offense intended, but you might want to take a look at my cunfusion on Google for rahmen and romanji. In Japan, these words are both used (definitely romaji is correct though). I've been living here in Japan the last seven years and yes, I can say that I screw up my spelling VERY often because I don't know if I am American, British or Japanese. haha. I think I wrote romanji because I beleive it should be so. "Roman - letter" not "Rome - letter". The confusion comes when you ask a Japanese and they (my wife) says "ji" means word when our dictionary says it means letter. Anyway, interesting...back to the food.

                    I've never seen chashu being smoked in a "ramen" shop here. I would think that would be done elsewhere. Yesterday I went to Musashi (a big home center) and found a cardboard smoker for $5. I didn't buy it due to it looking so dangerous.

                    applehome, do you add liquid smoke to your meat?

                    1. re: kansai_mike
                      Silverjay RE: kansai_mike Feb 13, 2007 04:15 PM

                      I've never seen it written as "rahmen" - ever. Why confuse people with that? Maybe it's a Kansai thing. Though it's true that according to Hepburn Romanization rules, "ラー" usually would be transliterated as "rah". By those rules, it would also be "roma-ji", but "roman-ji" is often used as well- probably because its an adjective. Interestingly enough, I've seen it many times as "raomen" - usually at older chuka-ryouri-ya (Chinese restaurants). And I think, also on some instant varieties....Importantly, in Japanese, even at Japanese shops, it's sometimes not even called ラーメン but 中華そば (chu-ka soba) such as this tasty place--> http://www.chowhound.com/topics/365264 . The word "ラーメン" doesn't even appear on the menu of these shops and I'm always interested in why the master has dubbed his creation one term rather than the other...

                      1. re: Silverjay
                        rameniac RE: Silverjay Jun 3, 2007 12:26 PM

                        don't forget ramen from the "raumen" museum and stadiums!

                        1. re: Silverjay
                          rameniac RE: Silverjay Aug 19, 2007 05:12 PM

                          i don't know if it applies across the board, but i've heard that one reason some shops go by "chukasoba" instead of "ramen" is because they don't use a wafu dashi in the soup base (bonito, konbu, etc.), which is what effectively makes ramen "japanese" in the minds of many. in wakayama people simply refer to ramen as "chukasoba," but that appears to just be local diction.

                          1. re: rameniac
                            Silverjay RE: rameniac Aug 19, 2007 08:42 PM

                            Hmm, well, to be honest, I actually think it's rather arbitrary. Bonito, konbu, etc. aren't in a lot of recipes that I've seen called "ramen". I'll have to ask some ramen chefs when I'm in Japan later in the year...Geez, reminds me, I'll have to start researching my chowing itinerary pretty soon...

                            1. re: Silverjay
                              rameniac RE: Silverjay Aug 20, 2007 11:18 AM

                              you know i thought that at first as well, but was surprised to learn that a lot of places do use some sort of konbu or something, especially in tokyo-style shoyu ramen, even if the overall wafu flavor isn't very pronounced.

                              i've come across places that actually emphasize this "wafu"-ness, but sometimes they overdo it and the result is a bit too close to hot udon or soba broth, at least for me.

                              one thing i've also heard is that when it comes to instant ramen at least, and again i don't know if this is across the board, is that "chukasoba" noodle cakes are non-fried, whereas the standard dry stuff is. i can't see how that would come into play with fresh ramen, so it might just be a marketing tactic for certain instant noodle brands.

                              where are you going this time out? i wish i could be in japan right now, despite the ridiculous weather...

                              1. re: rameniac
                                Silverjay RE: rameniac Aug 20, 2007 05:14 PM

                                Tokyo, as usual. And pondering Hakodate, among a few other places. They sometimes use ika there instead of pork as a ramen topping!

                                1. re: rameniac
                                  Silverjay RE: rameniac Aug 20, 2007 08:21 PM

                                  BTW rameniac, did you hear? Ichiran is coming to Brooklyn! ---> http://www.chowhound.com/topics/430260

                                  1. re: Silverjay
                                    rameniac RE: Silverjay Aug 21, 2007 05:52 PM

                                    ooh hakodate. be sure to post your thoughts on hakodate shio ramen!

                                    geez what's so great about new york?! haha. seriously tho, that's awesome. between ippudo, ichiran and setagaya, i'ma have to make their trip out there soon. that is, after they're all open of course.

                          2. re: kansai_mike
                            applehome RE: kansai_mike Feb 13, 2007 08:47 PM

                            I've never used liquid smoke, and hope to never have to. I have a couple of smokers, and have stepped through everything from electric to gas to charcoal. But I realize that I have a couple of acres to play around in, and that's not always possible. I've seen Boulud use liquid smoke - although what do those French know... I would never expect a real BBQ cook to use the stuff, but I would guess that it's possible to use it well.

                            Rather than a smoker, how about a more traditional Japanese grill with sumi or bincho charcoal? Bincho is known to burn super hot, so even a little piece is supposed to be enough to do steaks, but maybe with a taller cooker like the shichirin, you could control the heat and do something like yakibuta. Remember that this isn't bbq - it's not really necessary to do a true low and slow smoking over embers. Enough time over the wood embers and your meat is going to be well smoked.

                            Here's a shichirin page:

                            The Bincho site and the page with their stove:

                            1. re: applehome
                              antepiedmont RE: applehome Feb 13, 2007 09:35 PM

                              may we impose on you to post your recipes for yakibuta and pastrami on the home cooking board?

                      2. a
                        antepiedmont RE: kansai_mike Feb 13, 2007 09:34 PM

                        can we impose upon you to post your recipes for yakibuta and pastrami on the Home Cooking board?

                        1. g
                          GurglingStomach RE: kansai_mike Feb 15, 2007 08:34 PM

                          i tend to think japanese ramen, the soup stock is more miso based as opposed to chinese ramen which isn't.


                          8 Replies
                          1. re: GurglingStomach
                            bitsubeats RE: GurglingStomach Feb 16, 2007 12:48 PM

                            there are japanese ramens that dont consist of miso soup..like for instance I have seen it done with a pork stock

                            1. re: bitsubeats
                              Silverjay RE: bitsubeats Feb 16, 2007 01:03 PM

                              Miso is never part of the stock. This is an incorrect statement. See http://www.chowhound.com/topics/354177 . Miso is part of the base of flavor mixed with the broth right before its served. Although popular and available anywhere, most Japanese ramen does not contain miso. Also, you should never boil miso.

                              1. re: Silverjay
                                bitsubeats RE: Silverjay Feb 16, 2007 01:16 PM

                                hey! I know these things. (: but thanks anyways.

                                dont they have pork base ramens that dont even have miso stirred into them?

                                and yes I never boil my miso. how come you can dwaeng jang but youc ant boil miso? weird

                                1. re: bitsubeats
                                  Silverjay RE: bitsubeats Feb 16, 2007 06:10 PM

                                  Yes. Pork broth ramen is called "tonkotsu" in Japan. Famously, from Kyushu, but popular all over now. I've had kimchee ramen before in Japan and it just tasted like they threw in some generic kimchee into a standard chicken broth. I didn't take it seriously. I would LOVE to learn more about the Korean approach to this dish. Please do share anything on the subject. Though, we still have yet to get much detail on even the Chinese version...

                                  1. re: Silverjay
                                    Polecat RE: Silverjay Feb 16, 2007 07:23 PM

                                    What my brother-in-law, a lifetime Tokyo resident and after-hours Ramen die hard, refers to as "Deep Tonkotsu" Ramen, contains an uncompromised, porky flavor, with bits and chunks of white pork fat floating through it. I have what I consider to be a better-than-average appetite, and I could not finish my first bowl. It was way too heavy for me. A great many people have told me that this is a uniquely Japanese taste.

                                    In Asakusabashi, I had a bowl of Ramen that the proprietor - who was Chinese - told me was "Chinese Ramen". I definitely recall the noodles, in shape and texture, to be different, and that the broth was also unique, more meaty perhaps. It also contained bean sprouts and green bok choy type veggies.

                                    As for Korean style Ramen, I would be hesitant to plunk down good money for anything containing kimchee in Japan, as they tend to go for a sweeter, watered down version of it there. This is why my mother-in-law, a Korean who has lived most of her life in Japan, likes NYC kimchee far and away better than the version available in Tokyo.

                                    1. re: Silverjay
                                      TransFan13 RE: Silverjay Aug 17, 2007 09:34 PM

                                      ACtually, tonkatsu is deep fried pork cutlet.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonkatsu It is not pork broth ramen, however, there IS tonkatsu ramen, which is ramen topped with a pork cutlet. And of course, kimchee ramen in Japan wouldn't taste like real kimchee because it's Korean. Or maybe you just went to a cruddy resturant. =P

                                      1. re: TransFan13
                                        queencru RE: TransFan13 Aug 18, 2007 05:58 AM

                                        "Tonkotsu" ramen is a porky flavored ramen that typically has a creamy beige broth. Lots of times, restaurants that sell tonkotsu ramen have an extremely distinct smell that's overpowering. "Tonkatsu" is a pork cutlet and something completely distinct from tonkotsu.

                                        1. re: TransFan13
                                          Silverjay RE: TransFan13 Aug 18, 2007 06:00 AM

                                          You might want to brush up on your Japanese. Below are the two terms that you are confusing and their requisite wikipedia pages... How many times does this have to be explained to people before they understand the difference between an "a" and an "o" in the romanization?????

                                          1) とんこつ, 豚骨 (tonkotsu) = pork bone

                                          2) とんかつ, 豚カツ (tonkatsu) = pork cutlet

                              2. bitsubeats RE: kansai_mike Feb 16, 2007 12:49 PM

                                so this thread got me thinking, how about korean ramen? koreans eat ramen as much as the japanese and the chinese and thus it is incredibly popular in korea. Of course like japanese vs. chinese there are huge differences. I for one am a big fan of the spicy ramen that is colored red with tons of kimchi thrown in.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bitsubeats
                                  hannaone RE: bitsubeats Jun 3, 2007 12:41 PM

                                  There are a lot of Korean Ramen varieties. My favorite is a chom pong(sp?) style. Mixed seafood, onion, green onion, chives, lots of chili pepper, garlic, a little beef, in a beef based broth. And of course the almighty egg tossed in just late enough to get a soft boil.
                                  Nong Shim has a pretty good instant version of this called "Shin Ramyun".

                                  1. re: hannaone
                                    rameniac RE: hannaone Jun 3, 2007 04:59 PM

                                    hah funny you should mention this... i just dropped an egg into my shin ramyun recently and took some pictures of it LOL...


                                2. kansai_mike RE: kansai_mike Feb 19, 2007 03:43 PM

                                  I personally like spicey tonkatsu tomato ramen. I had it the other night at a shop on nigosen (Route 2), a famous route that stretches most of Japan and has the best ramen shops strewed along them.

                                  Miso in ramen is called miso ramen. It's a variety of ramen like tonkatsu or shio (is that right, shio? I think so, but never orderit cause it's just like a consome.)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kansai_mike
                                    E Eto RE: kansai_mike Feb 19, 2007 09:43 PM

                                    That's tonKOTSU, not tonkatsu. Ton=pork, kotsu=bone. Tonkatsu is fried pork cutlet. And you're right, miso in ramen is called miso ramen, but it's used as a base, not cooked in the broth. Just as using salt as the base is called shio ramen, and using a soy-based sauce as a base is called shoyu ramen.

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