For decades in the U.S., the closest approximation to ramen that most Americans experienced came in a shelf-stable styrofoam cup. But in the early 2000s, that started to change.
Chef David Chang opened Momofoku Noodle Bar in New York City in 2004, and in the years that followed, the simple, comforting dish of thin-and-crimped noodles plus a variety of vegetables and proteins in a rich broth took off. It was at that point where the perception of ramen changed from an easy, preservative-laden lunch to a complex meal in a bowl.
Ramen shops popped up all over the U.S. Today, consumers can get restaurant-quality fresh ramen noodles in grocery stores — thanks to companies like Sun Noodle, which made noodles exclusively for foodservice until 2015 — and enjoy complex and rich bowls of comfort from the comfort of their own home.
Market research firm Datassential reports that 51% of the population knows about ramen but only 29% have tried it, and awareness is highest among vegan and vegetarian consumers.
Click through the gallery and watch this video to learn more about this week’s Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using ramen on its menu.