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What Happened To Oriental Ramen?

Oriental ramen, the popular Chinese noodle soup, has been in decline for years. And now it seems to be kaput.

The decline of Oriental ramen began with the opening of a new restaurant called Ramen Shop on New York’s Lower East Side in 2008. Ramen Shop was something new: A hipster hangout where you could get hot noodles at midnight and watch bands perform on a tiny stage just outside the dining room.

The owners, Keizo Shimamoto and Takashi Inoue, had spent six months researching the best way to make ramen by traveling on their own dime through Japan and talking to chefs in Tokyo restaurants like Ippudo and Santouka. They even started making their own noodles in-house using flour imported from Japan’s Hokkaido region.

Ramen Shop was so popular that it spawned a chain of other branches across the country — including one inside Disneyland — but it also sparked a trend among other noodle shops that used authentic Japanese ingredients and recipes to create an American version of this traditional dish.

Now there are more than 100 ramen shops in New York City alone — many offering variations on the basic chicken broth-based Oriental dish — along with countless others around the country.

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Last modified: November 25, 2022

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