Ordering ramens in Japan 101.

If you are to visit Japan for sightseeing, and if you are interested in getting acquainted with Japanese culinary culture, we strongly recommend you to visit ramen shops at least once. However, in some establishments, you have to specify your preference when placing your order to customize your special bowl of ramen, so let us introduce you how to order your “Okonomi (your preference)” so that you don’t have to get confused.

First of all, typical examples of “Okonomi” include following three:

-        Firmness of the noodles

-        Heaviness of the broth flavor

-        Amount of pork backfat

The ramen chef will try his/her best to create a bowl of ramen as close to your preference as possible.

It is very easy to place an order. After you order the name of the noodle dish, you just have to select one from two patterns for each category, and let the chef know:

  1. Noodles: firm or soft
  2. Flavor: heavy or light
  3. Backfat: Fatty or light

If you are as young as high-teen up to mid-20s, or if your stomach is strong, you may want to order the noodle with “Men Katame (men-kata), firmer noodles”, “Aji Koime (aji-kome)”, heavier broth, and “Seabura Ome (seabura-mashi)” more backfat, however, if you are about to try ramen for the first time or if you are visiting the particular ramen shop for the first time, the only option you have in order to let you enjoy the tasty ramen without health hazards is to order the noodle with “everything regular (zenbu futsu)”.

For those “experienced ”foreign tourists who have had ramen many times before, and are hooked on ramen, we can introduce shops with rather higher difficulty associated with ordering with “Okonomi”. In this shop, patrons are required to utter a combination of words even complicated to Japanese people (therefore the ordering ritual there is described as “a magical spell”). The following is the example of this “magic spell.”

”Abura Nin-niku Mashi Mashi Yasai Sukuname”

If you are interested in learning the details of this “magic spell,” you should be able to find out various websites explaining it by searching “ramen jiro” or “jirolian.”

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