Pulling Apart the Ramen Burger
Written by: Aleksandra Bulatskaya
Photos: Victoria Felicity Elizondo
Sometime in the early 1600’s someone from Japan sailed to China. That person tried a soup made with noodles and liked it so much, that they brought the recipe back to their homeland.
From there the dish spread like wildfire and became a staple of Japanese cuisine. Of course, we have no way of knowing if that’s exactly how it happened. It could have easily been a Chinese immigrant who brought the dish from his homeland to Japan.
The point is that ramen noodles and soup found a new home because it’s an easy dish to love. The noodles chewy texture and starch base make it the perfect vehicle for richer flavors. That’s probably why people wait for over a half hour to try a Ramen Burger — the trendy burger and brainchild of Chef Keizo Shimamoto – that’s taking Brooklyn’s artisanal food scene.
Most of us remember ramen as the very first dish we made without adult supervision. A little Styrofoam cup filled with dry noodles, flavored powder and ungodly amounts of salt was a lifeline when the parents couldn’t cook. It was delish and laughably easy to make.
When you try the ramen burger, it’s clear these noodles aren’t cut from the same cloth. A friendly gentleman manning the Ramen Burger stand told us that the burger patty is made with hand cut noodles made by the Sun Noodle Company. On the website CEO, Hidehito Uki said that “noodles will be accepted anywhere in the world as long as they’re delicious”, and the noodle burger bun of the Ramen Burger is more proof that he was right.
Biting into the noodles you quickly realize that it’s the ramen and not the meat patty that makes this burger. The texture of the noodles allows you to taste the sauce and the patty in a whole new way. The ingredients are together, yet they are separate.
Real ramen noodles are handmade and their history in Japan seems to be a mystery even to the Japanese. It can be traced back to a Chinese soup somewhere between the 1600’s and the early 1900’s, according to Men’s Journal. Nobody knows how exactly or even when, but at some point, the noodles migrated from China to Japan.
Historically, Japan has been very protective of their culinary and cultural traditions. This means that many of your favorite Japanese foods are likely the same dishes that people have been enjoying for thousands of years. So by Japanese standards, a dish that’s four centuries old is still a recent addition.
For a new dish to become so ingrained in Japanese cuisine is a big deal. The answer as to why this happened goes back to the mission statement of Sun Noodle’s CEO. Noodles are a simple dish that tastes really good and people like good food.
Of course, we can’t forget about the burger patty. Adding the burger to the noodles marks a new chapter in the evolution of ramen. This time, it’s a turn towards the west with an American and Japanese hybrid.
When you consider the American cultural influences in Japan (Japanese baseball, anyone?), a dish that takes an American favorite and fuses it with a Japanese favorite was only a matter of time.