Ramen Burger!?

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

The last time that the 2nd Street Noodle Bar opened at Now and Zen, we talked about the history of Ramen in Japan.  Now Ramen is making a splash in America in an all-new way:  Ramen Burgers.  While ramen burgers, hamburgers sandwiched between two patties made of ramen, are well-known to Japanese customers of restaurants like Mos Burger and Lotteria, they have never made it to America - until now.  Suddenly, restaurants all over the United States are trying out this style of burger in San Diego, LA, Atlanta, New York, and other big cities.  


Ramen enthusiast Keizo Shimamoto decided to bring the ramen burger to Brooklyn earlier this year, made from his own special recipe.  People lined up outside by the hundreds for a chance to try the delicious creations, which quickly sold out every day.  Selling at $8 a piece, it was not unusual for 300 people to line up at Smorgasburg, a Williamsburg, Brooklyn flea market for a chance to get one of only 150 burgers.  Shimamoto came up with the idea while filming his movie "Ramen Dreams," an award-winning documentary about his quest for delicious ramen all over Japan that premiered last year.  Shimamoto worked as a computer programmer but in 2009 quit his job to devote his life to his blog, goramen.com.  He has now moved temporarily into Dassara Restaurant, but hopes to open his own restaurant soon.  


Already, imitators have sprung up in New York, Atlanta, San Diego, and even the Phillipines.  Packaged ramen brand Annie Chun's now offers instructions on how to make your own ramen "buns" with its noodles.  


The ramen burger was born in Japan, of course, but not at fast food chains as many people believe.  Instead, credit is given to the people of Fukushima, where it is widely believed that the restaurant Furusato-tei in Kitakata City popularized the dish.  Although they hold the trademark for the ramen burger, the future promises many ramen burgers all over the US, and maybe the world.