Sunday, February 17 saw the first ever Ramen Festival in Amsterdam, which took place at restaurant De Bajes, Utrechtsestraat. The event is the brainchild of Susam Pang, the festival founder and one of the co-creators of Foodbloggers Award. A number of Japanese restaurants set up stands at the festival, offering various types of ramen and other dishes. Amongst the restaurants were the Ramen Brothers Noodle Bar, showcasing their signature duck and vegetarian ramen. The Vatten Ramen restaurant also served their famous chicken ramen, while the Ku Kitchen & Bar served vegetarian tantanmen (spicy) noodles.
Though most people associate ramen with Japan, the dish was actually brought to Japan from China. The word ‘ramen’ is thought to come from the Chinese word ‘lamian’, a noodle dish. Originating from Japan’s northernmost city, Sapporo, ramen spread throughout Japan and then on to the rest of the world.
Visitors had the opportunity to try a variety of different dishes, along with various Japanese drinks. Local microbrewery De Prael also served a specially-brewed beer, designed to complement the ramen dishes. For a more traditional Japanese drink, Otemba Sake Project served their specialty junmai ginjo (cold) sake and junmaishu (warm and cold) sake.
Each ramen dish was served with different toppings and noodles, including curly, medium-thick Tokyo-style ramen noodles; straight, thin Hakaya-style ramen noodles, and round, thick Sapporo-style ramen noodles. Visitors were able to choose small tasting bowls to compare the varying ramen dishes. Each Japanese region has its own signature ramen, ranging from a traditional miso-based broth, to tonkotsu, a pork bone-based soup broth.
For those interested in trying different ramen dishes, the festival provided a complimentary ‘Amsterdam Ramen Map’, a guide to the best ramen spots in the city. Hinata Amsterdam, located on Westerstraat in the Jordaan, provides MSG-free broth, and homemade eggless noodles. Also located in Jordaan is Men Impossible, the only vegan ramen restaurant in Amsterdam. Meanwhile in De Wallen, Ramen-Ya is famous for its Hakata-style ramen, with homemade thin noodles and a thick broth.
For those interested in trying traditional Sapporo-style ramen, Sapporo Ramen SORA West, located in the De Baarsjes area, provides a variety of different traditional ramen dishes. For a wide selection of ramen, Fou Fow Ramen, located in van Woustraat in De Pijp, serves Shio, tori, tonkotsu, vegetarian, miso, and tantanmen ramen. To stay updated with the latest news about the Amsterdam ramen scene, check out bySam.nl
With Amsterdam’s dynamic cultural environment, other cuisines from around the world are likely to be in the spotlight soon.