Ramen expert shows you ropes on Japanese ramen

Frank Striegl
Frank Striegl

Ramen expert shows you ropes on Japanese ramen

Stripes Japan

Frank Striegl, 38, was born and raised in Tokyo. He runs 5am Ramen, a blog where he reviews ramen restaurants and talks about Japan’s favorite noodles. Striegl also runs Tokyo Ramen Tours, interactive and informative tours showcasing the dish, and Instant Ramen Japan, where you can order instant noodles straight to your door worldwide.

Below is a Q&A with this ramen expert to pick his brain and find out more about how his passion for ramen and Japanese food has led him to blog and start his own business. 

Q. How long have you lived in Japan? And what has been your favorite part about living here?

A. I was born and raised in Tokyo. After attending college in the U.S., one of the biggest things that called me back was the food!

Q. What drew you to ramen, starting a blog about ramen and launching businesses themed around ramen?

A. While I did eat ramen growing up, I didn’t really appreciate its intricacies until I became an adult. Let’s just say that the ramen world is ridiculously deep. Furthermore, there are always new ramen shops opening across the country - it’s an endless chase!

Besides visiting ramen shops and telling their story (through the blog), the first big ramen-centered business was Tokyo Ramen Tours. To date, the most popular ramen tour is a tasting tour. On it, participants get to enjoy 6 tasty mini bowls at three Tokyo ramen shops. Today, the ramen business involves everything from instant ramen e-commerce to ramen consulting.

Q. What is your goal for your blog and business?

A. I’d simply like to bring the world of ramen to the world.

Q. When you started exploring ramen, what were some things that surprised you?

A. I was surprised how deep the ramen rabbit hole goes. This includes the countless number of ramen styles, whether modern shoyu (soy sauce) ramen in Tokyo or tonkotsu ramen in Kurume, where they constantly add pork bones to the same soup (without cleaning the pot). Even though I’ve discovered a lot about ramen over the years, there’s still a crazy amount of things to be learned! 

Q. Besides ramen, what are your top 3 favorite Japanese foods?

A. Sushi, tonkatsu, takoyaki

Q. Any other information you’d like to add?

A. We all have a favorite ramen spot. But do try some new ones too - no bowl of ramen is the same (even if the same style)!

Read Ramen 101 story here

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