By now, you may be aware that Japan loves ramen. In fact, there are types of ramen from different parts of the country. With this in mind, it’s no longer a surprise that in just one area, there are many kinds of ramen. Taiwan Ramen is an example which is local food in Nagoya. If you want to know more, continue reading below.
What is Taiwan Ramen?
What makes Taiwan Ramen different from others? It’s not just the noodles but also the huge amount of garlic in the dish. Also, the creator fried and seasoned the ingredients spicy.
Some people compare its spiciness to Tantanmen which is another famous kind of ramen. Even so, this Nagoya local ramen beats the first one in terms of spiciness.
While the official name of the dish is Taiwan Ramen, some people call it Nagoya Ramen because of its history. Locals love to eat it with a serving of Gyoza or fried rice.
Talking about Taiwan Ramen can be a little confusing. Hence, a few questions may arise just by reading the name of this dish. So, let’s answer these questions one by one.
Where does the Taiwan Ramen come from?
Chinese cuisine has been popular in Japan since early times. For instance, some of the traditional food in the country has been highly influenced by it. Gyoza and Soba, for example, are some of the Japanese local food that originated from China.
Contrary to its name, this local food did not come from Taiwan. As a matter of fact, its origin traces back to Chukusa-Ku, Nagoya. With this in mind, it has become a part of Nagoya Meshi like Tebasaki and Kishimen.
The owner of a Taiwanese restaurant in Nagoya created this dish as an attempt to recreate Ta-a Mi. It’s a type of noodles that comes from Tainan, Taiwan which people sometimes call “slack-season noodles” or “Danzai”. Another thing to take in mind is that Ta-a is originally not spicy at all.
The Taiwanese owner of Misen, the name of the restaurant, tried to make Ta-a Mi noodles but failed. Since he likes spicy foods, Guo Mingyu, the owner of the restaurant, mixed garlic in the noodles.
At first, this meal is just for the employees. However, one of the shop’s regular customers saw this and wanted to try it. Taiwan Ramen became a part of the store’s menu eventually.
Why is it named “Taiwan Ramen”?
Although the name suggests a different place, it’s actually Nagoya local food. The place of origin is, in fact, a restaurant in Aichi.
During the early 1970s, the store owner went to his hometown and ate Ta-a Mi noodles with his friend. When he returned to Japan, he wanted to eat it again. Thus, he tried to make the noodles on his own. After various research, he still was not able to recreate it. So, he just came up with his own version and improvised it.
Timeline of Taiwan Ramen’s Growing Fame
After Guo Mingyu started serving this in his restaurant, it took him another year to adjust the taste. In fact, he was able to adjust the flavor to Nagoya people’s taste after a few trials and errors.
Later on, Taiwan Ramen has been a regular menu in Toyota’s employee cafe and others. During the 1980s, many Chinese stores started selling it so the dish became even more popular. Later on, some stores in other areas such Osaka and Tokyo started offering Nagoya Taiwan Ramen too.
In 2016, Guo Mingyu opened a store near the Kanda Station in Tokyo. He also developed a recipe called “American” which is less spicy than the original.
Nowadays, many Chinese restaurants learned the process of cooking Taiwan Ramen from the originator himself. Guo Mingyu did not request for patent as he wants to spread the taste of Taiwanese-style cuisine.
Taiwan Ramen spread even back to Taiwan. However, they called it “Nagoya Ramen”.
Is Taiwan Ramen healthy?
Taiwan Ramen has less than 500 calories only, so you’ll feel less guilty eating it. Though those are strict with their calorie intake, this can take a huge percentage on their daily requirement.
Since it’s spicy, Taiwan Ramen is also good for those who want to lose weight. In fact, other studies suggest that spicy foods can help weight loss. Also, it does help with boosting one’s metabolism. Hence, making one’s weight loss goals more achievable.
Taiwan Ramen Recipe
Some people compare Taiwan Ramen with “Tantanmen” since they are both spicy. However, the latter one comes with a thick sesame soup. While the first one is lighter and the soup is based on chicken broth and soy sauce. Tantanmen is also less spicy than Taiwan Ramen.
Now, let’s talk about how to cook this spicy ramen from Nagoya.
Taiwan Ramen Ingredients
This recipe is good for 2 people.
|water||2 1/2 cups|
|dried kelp||1 sheet|
|chicken cuts||300-500 grams|
|soy sauce||1 1/2 tbsp.|
|dried shiitake mushroom||1 pc.|
|oyster sauce||1 tsp.|
|minced pork||200 grams|
|crushed garlic||2 cloves|
|sesame oil||1 tsp.|
|dried chilies||4 pcs.|
|Sichuan chili paste||1/2 tbsp.|
|salt and pepper||a pinch|
|NOODLES and TOPPINGS|
|medium-thin and straight noodles||220 grams|
|soy sauce||3 tbsp.|
|Chinese chive||appropriate amount|
|crushed chili peppers||appropriate amount|
How to make Taiwan Ramen?
Indeed, both the soup and noodles are important. Making the soup takes time, so it’s best to prepare it early.
To begin with, boil the chicken cuts in clean water for about 60 to 90 minutes. You can also use a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time.
Before removing from heat, add dried kelp and shiitake mushrooms. Toss the soy sauce and oyster sauce also before mixing well. Once the chicken cuts break apart, remove the pot from the heat. Then, strain the soup and set it aside.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and add the sesame oil. Once it’s hot enough, sauté crushed garlic and ginger. As soon as the aroma comes out, add minced pork. When the color of the pork turns brown, add all the other ingredients. Turn down the heat and set it aside also.
Once the soup and pork are ready, boil the noodles in a separate pot. Of course, do not overcook it or it will be mushy. Then, drain excess water and transfer it into a small bowl. Add the fried pork on top of the noodles. Also, pour some soup into the bowl.
You can add more soy sauce and chili according to your taste. Lastly, garnish with Chinese chives and more garlic.
Instead of fresh noodles, you may opt to use dried noodles but reduce the amount to 110 grams. It’s also great to enjoy Taiwan Ramen with a serving of Gyoza.
Taiwan Ramen Restaurants
It is no doubt that the rise of spicy ramen did not just affect Nagoya but also other regions. With this in mind, there are several stores in other areas that serve Nagoya Taiwan Ramen. Check out these restaurants below to get that spicy and delicious bowl of Taiwan Ramen.
Misen Nisshin Takenoyama (味仙 日進竹の山店)
Let’s talk about the birthplace of Taiwan Ramen, to begin with. Indeed, nothing beats the original. Get a taste of the spicy ramen that takes inspiration from Taiwan’s Ta-a Mi noodles. The place may get crowded, so it’s best to come early and prepare to queue.
Shinsaibashi Ajisen (心斎橋 味仙)
Located in the commuting capital of Tokyo, Shinsaibashi Ajisen boasts an authentic taste of Taiwan Ramen. Back in 2017, the owners closed the restaurant after a car accident. However, fans who loved the food inspired the reopening of their store. They opened its current location in the busy area of Shinjuku.
Maintaining the original taste of their food, the owners are keen on reducing seasonings. Don’t forget to visit Shinsaibashi Ajisen when you’re in Tokyo.
Ken Taiwan Toyoda City Ekimae Main Store (台湾ケンさん 豊田市駅前本店)
The owner of the restaurant, a Japanese national, opened Ajichin back in 1984. At the age of 15, the owner trained in a Taiwanese restaurant. Later on, he opened his first shop in Toyota City. It became a famous restaurant in the area soon after. Even so, the first store closed due to road expansion.
After some time, Ken Taiwan revived this cuisine and has become a household name since then.
Shin Taipei Shimbashi Store (新台北 新橋店)
This Taiwanese-style restaurant is famous for its homemade dim sum and noodles. Indeed, one of them is their own recipe of Taiwan Ramen. It’s spicy yet rich in flavor. The store also gives off an authentic Taiwanese stalls ambiance.
It is no doubt that Taiwan Ramen is a spicy treat that everyone should get a taste of. Even though the name suggests a different place, it became a part of Nagoya Meshi. This ramen which flavor is enhanced by a large amount of garlic is sure to satisfy one’s taste buds.