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When you hear the word “ramen,” it’s no surprise that dozens upon dozens of adaptations of Japan’s iconic noodle soup may spring to mind. The slurp-y, affordable comfort food first started popping up in port towns in the late 19th century in the form of imported Chinese hand-pulled Lamian noodles, and immediately became a favorite dish among locals. However it didn’t take long for the Japanese to go from making it their go-to meal at Chinese establishments to putting their own twist on the dish, changing the stock and toppings and selling it from street carts.

From there, thanks to the appetites of the American troops who had been stationed in Japan during World War II, the country’s signature dish made its way stateside. The rest would appear to be history: the classic Cup Noodles to the Ramen Burger that took Smorgasburg by storm prove that our favorite flavor-bomb in a bowl is here to stay. Still, that doesn’t mean we know nearly enough about the dish that’s grown with us, from comforting college all-nighter snack to the date night fine-dining option. So, join us as we guide you through the various components, styles, and dining decorum of ramen.

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