1-1 Ginza 3-chome, Iida, Japan
Shanghai-Ro （上海楼） Iida Reviews
Jul 26, 2007
Ramen is addictive.
At least for me and for other countless Japanese folks.
Living in the US for more than a decade, ramen is something I miss fiercely because it is very difficult to get a good bowl of ramen outside of Japan. It is said that ramen originally came from China, but like other foreign dishes which came to Japan (another good example of such is Indian curry, which is now a part of typical Japanese home-cooking), it evolved into something distinctively Japanese, modified to suit the Japanese taste buds.
You ask any Japanese person what his/her favorite ramen is, and chances are, they would all give you different answers. Ramen varies from a region to region, and even within a region, every shop has a distinct style with different broth, noodles, and toppings. For example, roughly speaking, Tokyo ramen has soy-sauce-based broth with thin, curly noodles, and Sapporo ramen has miso-based broth with thicker noodles. There are so many varieties like that. If you go to a big city like Tokyo, you get to try all kinds of ramen from different regions.
So, here is my favorite bowl of ramen, the one I grew up with. My dad took me to the shop when I was four, and I’ve been eating it ever since whenever I am in town.
This little shop in Iida (my hometown), one of the oldest ramen shops in town, has been quietly serving the same bowls of noodles for more than sixty years. If there is such a thing as “Iida Ramen”, this is probably it. Thick, straight noodles in clear soy-sauce-based broth, with simple toppings of 'chashu' (sliced pork), cooked bamboo shoot, and green onion. Nothing fancy or glamorous; this is not the type of ramen you will find in ramen guide books (yes, such things exist!), or covered on TV shows.
After I left Iida for Tokyo, I tried a lot more ramen, some very famous and popular. Yes, they are all great, and I love them. Yet Shanghai-ro is like my home, something I always come back to. For me, this is THE ramen, a nostalgic bowl of noodle soup, perfect in every way.
It is comforting to know that something will never change.
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