Where is the Ramen Boom in the U.S. headed? We Made a Bold Guess of its Future!

Illustration of ramen noodle with background of skyscraper landscape

Hello to all the ramen fans around the world! Today, we prepared a special blog topic for you. About a year ago, we posted an article called “WHAT CAUSED THE RAMEN BOOM IN THE U.S.” and we received an overwhelming amount of feedback from our audience. Many of you, like us, were probably wondering, “Why did ramen become so popular in the U.S.?” To get a better understanding of this topic, we conducted some surveys and found that there are several factors that contribute to the cause of ramen’s popularity. If you’re interested in the modern ramen boom, we highly recommend reading this blog!

While some time has passed since our last blog post, we’ve came up with a recent question;” What’s going on with the ramen boom today?” The last time we posted an article regarding this topic was around a year ago, so there’s bound to be some interesting development in the ramen world. To get us all updated on the ramen boom, we brought up this topic in today’s blog. We also further analyzed the future of the ramen boom that we only briefly mentioned in our last article. These interesting topics should be worth reading, so please enjoy the rest of this blog.
Without further ado, let’s begin!


  • Index


■What is the current state of the ramen boom?

Though the ramen boom in the U.S. officially started in early 2000s, we’re sometimes asked, “How long will this boom last?” To answer this question from our viewpoint, we could say that ramen is no longer a passing fad but is now considered an established meal option, whether it is for eating out or at home. We have some evidence behind this statement that led us to think this way.
The first would be the parallel between the popularization of Japanese pop culture alongside ramen. Both gained recognition around the same time, with each influencing the other. Japanese anime has brought Japanese culture to the forefront with praise for its complex storylines that adults can enjoy. Apps such as “Crunchyroll” and “Netflix” allowed for anime to be accessible to core fans as well as the general audience consisting of a wide range of age groups. People who enjoy Japanese pop culture, including anime, tend to view ramen as a “food that symbolizes Japanese pop culture”. Therefore, as long as the Japanese pop culture trends, ramen will remain a popular food for the culture.
Secondly, with inflation spiking the cost-of-living, many people cut costs on their meal budget, pointing a spotlight on cheap and convenient food options like the popular instant ramen. According to the distributor of cup noodles, “Nissin Foods,” the sales of the fourth quarter of 2022 were 41% higher compared to the previous year. We would say that the increase in sales of instant ramen leads to interest in the entire ramen industry.
Finally, the third reason is the ramen’s adaptability to different food cultures and religions. Though most ramen is made using pork and chicken broth for the soup, flour for the noodles, and various other ingredients for toppings; vegetarian ramen that uses strictly plant-based ingredients is available for vegetarians. For those who cannot eat pork due to their religion, soup can be made from chicken or fish broth, and chashu (roasted pork fillet) can be replaced by another protein source. Ramen’s adjustability to different food cultures can be compared to pizza, which is a staple dish worldwide.
Considering these 3 reasons, the attention ramen receives is only increasing, and the customization that ramen allows is a contributing factor to its popularity. It is expected that the ramen boom will continue due to these reasons. Perhaps, ramen could possibly be a staple menu item in the U.S. in the near future.


■The Future of the Ramen Boom

Next, we would like to predict the future of the ongoing ramen boom from our own perspective. We acknowledge that there may be some objections and counter-arguments against our opinion. We are more than happy to hear any opposing views or personal thoughts, so be sure to give us a comment! Let’s get right to it!

#1. The Popularization of Ramen Shops Corresponding to Online Orders

Food Delivery App on Smartphone


Though the online food delivery market gained massive popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the choice to use online ordering at restaurants (including pick-up options) remains trendy even after the pandemic slowed down in 2023. Under these circumstances, it’s become a must for ramen shops to adapt to the online market if they want to keep their doors open. Since noodles tend to get soggy fast and soup loses its warmth, ramen is considered to be a difficult dish to maintain quality during transportation, especially compared to other menu options (Source: JAPAN VS. U.S. FOOD DELIVERY COMPARISON: HOW RAMEN DELIVERY HAS EVOLVED SO FAR!). However, improvements to containers used to store ramen continue to advance, offering almost the same level of quality as if you were to eat at the restaurant. Being able to enjoy delicious ramen, even at home, is a key reason to continue the topic of the ramen boom.


#2. The Appearance of Ramen Chains Throughout the U.S.

Franchise business concept image


In previous years, ramen shops popped up in areas with prominent Japanese communities, such as Los Angeles and New York. Recently, however, more and more ramen shops are opening in areas such as Arizona and Colorado, where not many Japanese communities are present. This is a sign that ramen no longer caters strictly to the Japanese taste but has evolved to fit the American palate. We predict that looking at the potential of ramen, there will be a large amount of ramen industries that aim to franchise their stores throughout the United States. Several companies have been franchising around the U.S. already, and the most influential between them would be the “Jinya Ramen Bar.” As of March 2023, Jinya Ramen Bar holds 52 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and their goal is to develop 25 stores each year. They already opened 10 to 15 new locations in 2023 and are expected to open 25 more in 2024. If Jinya Ramen Bar continues this trajectory, we should expect to be able to enjoy ramen at a restaurant anywhere in U.S. in the near future.


#3. A New Popular Ramen Appears Following Tonkotsu Ramen

Tenkaippin's Ramen
Image by ©Fabian Reus Flickr.com


Among the many variations of soy sauce, miso, and other ramen soups, tonkotsu ramen is gaining popularity in the U.S. It is difficult to pinpoint the reason for its popularity, but if the tonkotsu ramen’s rich flavor is the secret, perhaps other ramen that are rich in flavor will also gain its attention. We think that the next ramen craze to win over tonkotsu ramen will be the ramen from “Tenkaippin”! Unlike tonkotsu ramen, Tenkaippin’s ramen is made by slowly cooking chicken broth and more than a dozen of vegetables. The thick soup has cultivated an enthusiastic fan base in Japan. The video below will give you a better understanding of the thickness of the soup.



As a matter of fact, a tenkaippin shop has already opened in Hawaii, so it isn’t a stretch to expect one on the mainland of the United States eventually. Without a doubt, this will attract support from the fans of the rich soup of tonkotsu ramen.


#4. The Expansion of “Ajihen”

A Variety of condiments in ramen restaurants


If you are familiar with the term Ajihen, then you are quite the ramen connoisseur! For those unfamiliar, ajihen (“味変” meaning, taste change) is a popular way of enjoying ramen among ramen fans, which is to first taste the ramen served in its pure form, before adjusting the flavor with seasoning to match one’s own preference. Common seasonings that ramen shops offer are grated garlic or ginger, chili or sesame oil, vinegar, and doubanjiang (“豆板醤” meaning, chili bean sauce). On top of that, there’s an increase in ramen shops recommending that customers add rice to the soup after finishing the noodles, making it into a sort of risotto. This is also an example of ajihen. We believe that these services are steadily increasing even in American ramen shops, and eventually, ramen shops that promote ajihen will expand.


#5. The Rising Popularity of Noodles Made from Rice Flour

Rice noodles made from rice flour


Currently in Japan, the rising price of wheat flour needed to make ramen noodles has sparked an influx in the use of self-sufficient rice flour. Also, ramen shops for vegans and vegetarians using the rice flour noodles have gained popularity in Japan. Both factors could ultimately lead to the increase of shops offering vegetarian and gluten-free options. In the United States where gluten-free is commonplace, we believe in a high chance that these types of Japanese ramen will be widely accepted.
As a reference, below are Japanese ramen shops that offer gluten-free noodles, so please visit these stores if interested when going to Japan.


#6. Ramen Influenced by Korean Food Boom in Japan Arrives

Shin Ramen


The Korean boom in Japan started in the early 2000s, and after years of an ebb and flow influence, it’s said that a fourth Korean boom is currently on the rise. A sign of the enthusiasm for this boom is evident in the fact that the popular city for the youth in Japan, Harujuku, has shifted to Shin-Okubo, where rows of Korean cuisine restaurants are located. Chapagrui, made popular by the movie “Parasite,” is an instant noodle that movie and drama characters tend to eat on a daily basis. Thus, when “rose ramen” (made from adding tomato cream and chili pepper to create a mild flavored soup) boomed in Korea, it quickly spread to Japan and gained popularity, emphasizing how the culinary cultures of Japan and Korea intertwine significantly, compared to before. The Korean wave in Japan has become firmly established and no longer seems to be a temporary trend. What we would like to consider here is the potential for new ramen creations born from the Korean wave in Japan. Up until now, most of the popular Korean dishes have been accepted as is in Japan, but since Japanese people love improvement, the possibility of unique ramen dishes inspired by popular Korean cuisine is likely to appear in the future. If these ramen creations become popular in Japan, they could potentially spread to the United States through social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok.



In this blog, we examined the current state of the ramen boom and ventured to predict possible future scenarios. What kind of impressions did everyone have? If you have different opinions such as, “I think another kind of future is also possible,” please share it with us! After conducting the survey, we are convinced that the ramen movement continues to gain momentum and it will not stop anytime soon. Ramen continues to attract so much attention, which is indeed something remarkable! Moreover, we would also like to share additional future predictions about ramen, while these may have been omitted from the main article. Please share your opinions as well regarding these topics!

・Release of collaboration products between popular anime and ramen such as “Demon Slayer” and “Attack on Titan”
・Release of collaboration products between star ramen chefs like Ivan Orkin and ramen manufactures

That concludes today’s article. We will continue to prepare articles that will be enjoyable to ramen fans, so please look forward to the next article!


Reference links:

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日本のアニメがアメリカで爆発的な人気を集める理由と事例3選 デザイン会社 ビートラックス: ブログ
世界のマーケターが日本のアニメに注目する理由 | 深層 | Campaign Japan 日本
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2023年度のトレンド予想!代替食品、高級寿司、海外グルメなどが話題に? 求人飲食店ドットコム
BLOG: Top-ranked global cuisines Americans love to eat in 2023 – The Business Journal
Can Ramen Conquer Fast Casual? | QSR magazine
Next Successful Franchise Opportunity Could Be Ramen – The Food Institute
Ramen wars: Emerging chains aim to become Americans’ top spot for noodles and broth
How many places in the U.S.A are serving Ramen? | POGOGI Japanese Food
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Instant ramen is a pantry staple through hard times
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Jinya Ramen Bar to grow from 52 units to 200-plus in 10 years | Restaurant Dive
アメリカの天下一品でこってりラーメン食べたんだけどさ | ガジェット通信 GetNews
女子高生が竹下通りから新大久保に流れるワケ | 街・住まい | 東洋経済オンライン | 社会をよくする経済ニュース
ラーメン見聞録「ラーメンの味変」について考察 – フードマニア Food Mania by 旭屋出版
醤油ラーメン、ちょい足しの定番調味料ランキングは?アレンジして自分好みに♪ | 株式会社メディアエクシード