Though many in the U.S. recognize “ramen” as dry, inexpensive noodles packaged with a packet of artificially flavored seasoning powder, the dish actually has a rich history. Ramen, a dish containing noodles in broth often topped with meat or vegetables, originated in China, but is more commonly associated with the Japanese culture, where ramen shops represent a down-to-earth culinary tradition that can be compared to that of the American diner. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur interested in sharing this culinary traditional with others, starting a ramen shop may be the ideal venture.
Learn about the history of ramen, as well as how to traditionally prepare the dish by reading Chinese and Japanese cookbooks. Watch films such as "Tampopo" (1985) to better understand ramen's place in Japanese culture.
Pick a business model for your ramen shop. You can either have a stationary restaurant or a mobile ramen food trailer. A mobile food trailer is less costly and more versatile, but stationary ramen shops are traditional.
Obtain the permits needed to start a restaurant in your area. This may include food manger certification, food handler permits, a food enterprise license, fictitious name certificate (DBA), employer identification number (EIN) or state tax identification number.
Lease a space for your ramen shop or buy a food trailer to vend your noodles. Ideal locations include near college and university campuses, in busy shopping centers and the food courts of malls.
Develop a menu for your ramen shop. Traditionally, ramen is made by hand from flour, water, egg or kansui, which is alkaline mineral water, and salt. The noodles are then boiled, served in pork, chicken or soy broth, and decoratively topped with egg, vegetables, seafood or meat. In addition to traditional ramen dishes, try adding more eclectic flavors, such as ramen in lemongrass and cilantro broth.
Promote your ramen shop business. You can start a promotional blog or website, hand out fliers on local college campuses, list your ramen shop in restaurant directories or become a vendor at a local flea market, fair or bazaar.