->'''[[BaldBlackLeaderGuy Dennis]] [[Series/TwentyFour Haysbert]]:''' ''"Emily is just starting out--and on a budget. Like a ramen-noodle-every-night budget. She thought Allstate car insurance was out of her reach."''
->--[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24n2Ao_R-co An advertisement]] for [[CaptainObvious Allstate car insurance]].

When you hear the word "ramen," what do you think of? If you are a Westerner, chances are you think of dried noodles with some strange powder, served in a styrofoam cup. You pour boiling water into the cup, wait for three minutes, and serve. Ramen is also usually inexpensive, leading to the quote above where having to eat ramen on a daily basis is an implication that you're close to broke. Which companies and brands you see most often will depend on the country you're from:
* UsefulNotes/{{Australia}}, UsefulNotes/{{Malaysia}} and UsefulNotes/SouthAfrica: [[http://www.maggi.in/default.aspx Maggi's Two-Minute Noodles]] (actually from UsefulNotes/{{India}})
** Some Australians (in particular recent uni students) prefer Indonesian brand Indomie's [[http://www.indomie.com/products-goreng.html Mie Goreng]].
* UnitedKingdom: [[http://www.unilever.co.uk/brands-in-action/detail/Pot-Noodle/297345/ Unilever's Pot Noodles]]
* UsefulNotes/TheUnitedStates and UsefulNotes/LatinAmerica: [[http://www.maruchan.com Maruchan's]] Instant Lunch and [[http://www.nissinfoods.com Nissin's]] Cup Noodles and Top Ramen
* UsefulNotes/{{Canada}}: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Noodles Mr. Noodles]], [[http://eng.nongshim.com/eng/pro/prod_deft_lst.jsp Nong Shim]], and [[http://www.taipansauces.com/products/sapporo_ichiban_overview.asp Sapporo Ichiban]].
** In an example of BrandNameTakeover, "ichiban" is often used as a generic term in Canada to refer to any type of ramen. In the original Japanese, it means "number one".
* UsefulNotes/{{Poland}}: Yum Yum, [[http://vifon.pl/pl/produkty/zupy/ Vifon]] and [[http://knorrnudle.pl/ Knorr Nudle]] - the last one has many unusual flavors for ramen, including Hungarian goulash and very popular locally tomato soup.
* UsefulNotes/{{Russia}}: [[http://www.doshirak.com/ Korea Yakult's]] Doshirak and local Rollton brand, although recently Nong Shim started to make a dent.
* UsefulNotes/{{Germany}}: [[http://www.maggi.de/produkte/Alle-Produkte/?action=detailnutritions&id=11805166 Maggi 5-Minuten-Terrine]]
* UsefulNotes/{{Indonesia}}, UsefulNotes/{{Nigeria}} and UsefulNotes/TheMiddleEast (minus Israel): Indomie, favored for being fairly good and halal.
* UsefulNotes/{{Philippines}}: Lucky Me and Payless.

We shall begin with dehydrated noodles, as this is more familiar to a westerner than fresh ramen. While "ramen" refers strictly to a specific type of Japanese noodle (often in soup), the term is also used to refer to any package of dehydrated noodles with seasonings for a single serving. On the other hand, recently many producers started to differentiate between various type of noodles, so one can encounter amusing combinations like "udon instant ramen".[[note]]Ramen--the fresh kind--are a Japanese development of Chinese noodles, and might well be the Japanese pronunciation of the lo mein you find at Chinese restaurants pretty much everywhere (except of course most of China).[[/note]]

Instant noodles were invented by a guy named Momofuku Ando, a naturalized Taiwanese immigrant who, among his many commercial ventures, was once a successful salt merchant and knew the food industry inside out. Once in 1947, at the height of the postwar poverty in Japan, he saw a long line to the ramen shop in Osaka, and thought that it'd be nice if the people wouldn't need to wait outside for hours to eat. He then went to experiment in his storage-shed-turned-a-lab in his backyard, and after 11 years of experiments finally found a solution: fry the freshly boiled ramen in palm oil until crisp to remove moisture, then pour concentrated chicken stock over, dry it off and sell. So in 1958 his first product, Nissin Chicken Ramen, was out. Later, he or one of his employees invented a styrofoam cup, and so Nissin Cup Ramen was born. Ando died in 2007, at the ripe old age of 96 (eating his invention everyday, mind you), but Nissin Food, his company, remains the largest player on the market up to this day.

There are dozens of companies creating literally hundreds of different sorts, with at least one representative from every Oriental country. Step into an Asian (or even a general) supermarket, and you will see an entire aisle devoted to these noodles, usually spanning both sides. Dehydrated noodles exists for Indonesian ''mi goreng'', Vietnamese ''pho'', Japanese ''udon'' and ''yakisoba'', Thai ''tom yum'' and ''pad Thai'', Korean ''jjajang'', Chinese ''wor wonton'', and so forth. ''Udon'' is an odd case in that the noodles do not dehydrate properly, so they are normally shipped undehydrated and stored refrigerated, separate from the other types of ramen, or simply vacuum-packed, though in this case it's better to check the expiration date carefully they have somewhat shorter shelf life. Nevertheless, preparation techniques are the same as their dehydrated kin.

But the familiar styrofoam cups are not a given: they are characteristically Japanese and in foreign markets managed to get a hold mainly in US, so in other countries cup ramen would most probably be imported. The cheaper varieties will most commonly come in bags, which are meant to be prepared at home; but some more upscale types will come in plastic/cardboard bowls or buckets, which are meant to be prepared at school or at work. Most will cook in the same way as the familiar cup noodles (immerse the noodles in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, then uncover), though you should expect to see separate packets for the soup powder, as well as the occasional packets for chili powder, hot sauce, oil, soy sauce, fried garlic, vegetables, vinegar, etc., in addition to the brick of noodles. Some require you to soak the noodles, drain, and ''then'' season them. Some brands require no preparation at all--you'd eat the dehydrated noodles as they are (actually most could be, as they're all ready to eat, rehydration just makes them more palatable). The approach depends both on the manufacturer and the type of dish.

What all dehydrated noodles have in common, however, no matter what country they're from, is that they're symbolic of poverty -- or, at least, not exactly stable life. Which is somewhat ironic, given that initially instant ramen was seen as an upscale product, and cost significantly more than the real stuff. Things changed since, though, and now whether it's the [[StarvingStudent starving university student]], people living alone flooded in debt, or folks who have fallen on hard times, whenever you see someone in fiction pouring boiling water into a brick of rock-hard noodles, you can tell they're hungry for money as well as food. Quite TruthInTelevision, as instant noodles are quite cheap and can be prepared quickly. The somewhat more nutritionally conscious might put in some veggies and an egg.

Very likely to be TrademarkFavoriteFood for characters in media like manga. Interestingly, in manga and related media nowadays, there is a tendency to depict ramen as TrademarkFavoriteFood for even rich and high class people, or at least as some kind of delicacy to them.
!!!Dehydrated noodles as seen in media

[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Part of Haruhi's "commoner food" in ''Anime/OuranHighSchoolHostClub''.
* The heroes in ''CowboyBebop'' always find themselves eating dried noodles of various types due to their constant lack of money. It becomes a RunningGag. This being the future, the cups have a little steam-making device built into them.
* ''LuckyStar'' has a few scenes with instant ramen, discussing the tendency to forget about it while it's cooling.
* ''{{Noblesse}}'' has the main character having ramen as his TrademarkFavoriteFood despite his high-class background.
* Resident ojou of ''Manga/SeitokaiYakuindomo'' also appears to be quite fond of ramen.
* One of the ''Project X'' nonfiction business documentary mangas is about Nissin and the creation of the Cup Noodle.
* In one episode of ''Anime/{{Patlabor}}'', the prince of a Middle Eastern nation comes to visit Japan to check out their mecha police program. After becoming friends with the show's police squad he becomes enamored with "commoner" food and demands to be provided with every flavor of dried noodles they can find.
* Despite living with a very good cook, Kazuki Yotsuga and Ken Sanada of ''Anime/ParallelTroubleAdventureDual'' wind up sneaking instant ramen at midnight, saying they need that cheap junk food taste.
* In YuGiOh5Ds, Cup Ramen is specifically stated to be Jack Atlas' TrademarkFavoriteFood. Justified, in the sense that he (along with Yusei and Crow) grew up as an poor orphan in Satellite, and they were so deprived that even eating cheap Cup Ramen is a considerable luxury for them.
** A specific brand, Red Demon's Noodle (a reference to his Signature Card) was a focal point in one episode.

* In ''{{Uglies}}'', they have tons of types of dehydrated meals, many involving noodles, which are all written in CamelCase, and so would all be WikiWord-ed here.
* In ''TheTomorrowSeries'', [[CityMouse city girl]] Fi is entirely unfamiliar with Two-Minute Noodles. Jack tells her about him subsisting on Two-Minute Noodles for a whole week when living with his father before the war.

* In ''Series/RedDwarf'', Lister refers to "Pot Noodles" as a meal of last resort. He eats dog food over them in "Marooned", and in "Angels and Demons", when on a "perfected" version of the Red Dwarf, he tests its perfection by ordering Pot Noodles from the food dispenser.
* In a first-season episode of ''Series/BreakingBad'', Walter White gives a pack of ramen to his old business partner Elliott Schwartz as a memento from their days working together as struggling graduate students.
* An early episode of ''{{ER}}'' had Dr. Ross catching Dr. Carter preparing to feast on a cup of instant noodles, despite being from a ''very'' wealthy family. Turns out, his family [[RichesToRags cut him off]] due to a disagreement.

* In ''Franchise/AceAttorney'', Dick Gumshoe frequently finds himself eating ramen... when he can afford it.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'' takes place in 1964, and ramen is an uncommon item that offers excellent stamina recovery, and doesn't rot like other foods.
** Instant noodles return as standard healing items in both ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'' and ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker''.
* One subplot in ''VideoGame/{{Yakuza}} 3'' revolves around a food conglomerate trying to replicate the signature dish at local ramen restaurant in instant form.
* Cup 'O Ramen is a very cheap quick meal available in ''[[TheSims The Sims 2 University]]''.

* The students in ''Webcomic/{{PHD}}'' feed off of dried ramen and free food.
* Despite being French, Mona Montrois in ''Webcomic/CestLaVie'' is incapable of cooking: she appears to live on cigarettes, strong drink and pot noodles (instant ramen).

Of course, the media also depicts fresh ramen as well. The restaurant-quality stuff may have been right under your nose among the things you've watched, read, played, or otherwise consumed.

!!!Fresh ramen as seen in media

[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* The eponymous character in ''{{Naruto}}'' is a fan of ramen, referring specifically to the fresh kind (and the dehydrated one, too, which he eats on a daily basis). The series has a [[LocalHangout ramen bar, Ichiraku Ramen]], that's internationally famous.
* ''RamenFighterMiki'' focuses on competing ramen delivery services.
* In ''OnePiece'', Wanze fights using ramen noodles as armor and as grappling.
* ''{{Oishinbo}}'' has devoted chapters here and there to ramen and other noodles.
* ''VisualNovel/{{AIR}}'': Kunisaki Yukito is dirt-poor, third-rate street performer who will do anything for a bowl of real ramen.

[[AC: Film]]
* {{Tampopo}} is considered the classic Japanese ramen movie.
* ''TheRamenGirl'', a movie about an American woman who follows her boyfriend to Japan, ends up getting dumped by him and left stranded there, and later drowns her sorrows at a local ramen restaurant. To cope with the loss, she vows to become an expert ramen cook and convinces the restaurant owner to train her in cooking ramen. For some reason she also gains the ability to create empathetic food in one scene. The ability is never referenced again.

* In ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'', there's a ramen restaurant (Ramen Don) whose food affects the player characters' stats. In Week 2, Day 3, a mission revolves around Ramen Don and a rival ramen shop which opens a few doors down.
* ''{{Persona 3}}'' had Hagakure Ramen as a typical hangout location, usually important for Social Links.
* Ramen has apparently become an Earth delicacy in the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' universe by the time of ''Mass Effect 2''. Kasumi speaks about her grandmother preparing it, and a cook at a restaurant on the Citadel can also be overheard talking about it. Alternatively, the chef is trying to con some Citadel tourists into eating "genuine" Earth cuisine.
** Grunt the Krogan and ExtremeOmnivore at that [[DoesNotLikeSpam dislikes ramen]], because it looks like dead worms to him.
* In one of the levels of ''[[OsuTatakaeOuendan Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan]]'' the cheerleading squad has to help the owner of a failing ramen shop revitalize his establishment.