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Kanji Cheat Sheets

Kanji Cheat Sheets
Kanji Cheat Sheet: Using a Ramen Ticket Machine in Japan
March 10, 2020

One of the greatest things about Japan is the country’s near-limitless ramen options. Between the wide variety of regional styles and toppings, you could eat a different bowl every day if you really wanted to.

There’s cold ramen to chill you out during summer and even vegan ramen if you’re into that. Some people prefer tsukemen, noodles you dip in a separate bowl of broth, while others love abura soba, ramen with little to no broth. Practically every ramen shop boasts an original recipe, so you may as well try them all.

That being said, it can be a chore ordering your ramen of choice without knowing Japanese. Thankfully, with Japan being the Blade Runner-esque future country of tomorrow that it is, most ramen shops have simple and easy to read machines that let you order their delicious noodles with the simple push of a button. Yes. That is what constitutes living in Blade Runner in my world.

Ramen in the machine

Photo: iStock.com/Tuayai

Once you make your order, a ticket will pop out. Just hand it over to the chef, and in a couple of minutes, you’ll be wharfing down noodles and slurping like a native.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Ramenらーめんramen
Cold dipping noodlesつけ麺tsukemen
Miso ramen味噌ラーメンmiso ramen
Soy sauce ramen醤油ラーメンshoyu ramen
Salt-based ramen塩ラーメンshio ramen
Chicken ramen鶏ガララーメンtorigara ramen
Spicy Sichuan-style ramen担々麺tantanmen
Chilled noodles冷やし中華hiyashi chuka

Now, the last thing you want to do is hold up the line because you want to use this as an opportunity to study Japanese. The hungry band of salarymen behind you can only passive-aggressively sigh so much until the cook comes from behind the counter to assist you. Then you’ll end up pointing at pictures on the wall, and grunting kore (this) like you’re Disney’s Tarzan.

Ramen toppings (and beer)

Any good ramen enthusiast knows how important toppings are. The flavor can change considerably depending on what’s put in the bowl. There are tons of different toppings, but here is a quick list of the classics. May as well order an ice-cold beer on the side while you’re at it.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Marinated egg味付玉子 or  味玉ajistuketamago or ajitama
Roasted porkチャーシューchashu
Bamboo shootsメンマmenma
Green spring onion青ネギaonegi
Seaweed海苔nori
Draft beer生ビールnama bi-ru

Customize your ramen even further!

Do you like thick soup or an oily texture? How about the firmness of the noodles? Not every shop will let you choose, but if a place wants to be the Burger King of ramen and let you have it your way, you might as well know your choices. This part usually comes after you hand your ticket to the chef, but you might see the options on the ticket machine itself.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Large serving大盛りoomori
Normal serving並盛りnami mori
Spicy辛味karami
Noodle firmness麺の硬さmen no katasa
Hardかためkatame
Normal普通futsu
Soft軟らかめyawarakame
Soup thickness味の濃さaji no kosa
Thickこってりkotteri
Lightあっさりassari
Oiliness脂の量abura no ryou
More多めoome
Light少なめsukuname

More noodles!

Lastly, if you’re still hungry after your first bowl, there is a magic word you can use. Kaedama, which means, “a second serving of noodles,” is used for when you’re out of noodles, but still have soup leftover. Not every shop will have it as an option, but many do. It usually costs around ¥100 and can typically be ordered from the machine, but you might have to ask the chef directly.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Second serving of noodles替え玉kaedama
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