How to eat ramen: What are those bottles for?

Most ramen shops have a bunch of bottles on the table, but do you know what’s in them and what they’re for? We want to show you the best way of using them because Tokyo Bee Hive is nothing if not passionate about ramen and we want you to be too!

so says

All of those bottles and pots you find on the table when you go to eat ramen are all quite common condiments for Japanese people. What are they? What are they for? Even if you know what they are, do you know how to use them, and in what ratio? Here is the perfect guide to help you enjoy your ramen like a local.    

What are they?

Firstly let’s look at the sauces:

Black sauce – soy sauce.

Yellow or white – malt vinegar or rice vinegar. 

Red sauce – spicy sesame oil. 

 

Theses are for making the dipping sauce for gyoza (dumplings/ 餃子/ ぎょうざ). People don’t usually use them if they don’t order dumplings. However, if you do order them, I think 95% of Japanese people use these condiments. The ratio of each totally depends on personal taste, but I’ll tell you the basic ratio, a popular one, and a more unusual one.

How to make gyoza sauce

Gyoza condiments

1. Order gyoza

Gyoza condiments

2. Pour the sauce

The sauce is made in tiny side dish or sometimes on a specially separated section of the gyoza plate.

Gyoza condiments

3. Regular ratio

Soy sauce: 5 parts
Vinegar: 5 parts
Spicy sesame oil: 1 part

Gyoza condiments

4. Popular ratio

Soy sauce: 3 parts
Vinegar: 5 parts
Spicy sesame oil: 1 part

5. Unique ratio

Vinegar: 5 parts
Black pepper: 3 parts

The TV presenter, Matsuko, says you can really feel the gyoza flavour with this sauce!

6. Try it at home

Ramen shops don't usually have these ingredients but give it a try at home!

Ponzu sauce (ポン酢/ ぽんず) - soy sauce and citrus.
Yuzu-koshou (柚子胡椒/ ゆずこしょう) - a paste made from yuzu zest (a Japanese citrus fruit) and chilli peppers.

This is tasty, but my personal preference at home is to just dip the gyoza in yuzu-koshou!

Other popular condiments

popular condiments in ramen shop

Aonegi

青ネギ/ あおねぎ

Sliced spring onion. Usually people put it in ramen.

popular condiments in ramen shop

Ninniku

ニンニク/ にんにく

Garlic. Some shops provide cut garlic, some provide it as a grated paste. Usually people put it in ramen.

popular condiments in ramen shop

Takuan

沢庵/ たくあん

Yellow pickled radish. One of the most popular Japanese pickles. Usually people eat it with rice, or on its own as a palate-cleansing side dish.

popular toppings in ramen shop

Beni shouga

紅ショウガ/ べにしょうが

Red pickled ginger. Usually found in tonkotsu ramen shops. Usually people put it in the ramen.

popular condiments in ramen shop

Gochujang

コチュジャン/ こちゅじゃん

Korean red chili paste. Usually people put it in the ramen.

popular toppings in ramen shop

Karashi takana

辛子高菜/ からしたかな 

Pickled mustard with chili. Usually found in tonkotsu ramen shop. Usually people put it in the ramen.

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