When I lived in the US (and I assume for most American people) the word “ramen” meant very cheap, not necessarily healthy, but very easy to prepare noodles. Just like many college students it was a very important part of my diet for those reasons (well, at least the cheap and easy ones).
Now, that I live in Japan, I realize that I was confusing “ramen” and “instant ramen”.
See, ramen, while not the most healthy dish, is not considered as cheap junk food in Japan. It’s cheap indeed (a bowl in a restaurant will usually cost you about $5), but it’s “real food”.
And it comes in many different recipes.
Here are two I really like, simply called white ramen and black ramen. Those are not official appellations by any means, but I like them. Note that the restaurant where they’re from also has a red ramen (and it’s spicy).
White ramen is more or less your usual miso ramen
(there are two basic broths for ramen, one made from miso, the other one from soy sauce).
Black ramen is also miso based, but also comes with some black powder that looks like black pepper but which is indeed grilled sesame powder and some nori
(you know, the dried laver/seaweed also used to make your sushi rolls).
Both are delicious. 🙂