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Join ramen burger craze with home recipe for buns

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 01:39 p.m. HST, Dec 19, 2013

The ramen burger is not even 7 weeks old, and already it’s a phenomenon. They’re calling it “the food craze of the summer,” and by “they” I mean those who would stand in line for four hours for the chance at the latest, greatest edible thing.

Birthed by ramen-aholic Keizo Shi­ma­moto in Brooklyn, N.Y., the sandwich is a beef patty between two ramen patties — noodles compressed into a bun shape, fried crisp on the outside and lightly grilled. Imagine cake noodles in the round.

Shimamoto introduced his product at Smorgasburg, an outdoor Brooklyn food fair, on Aug. 3, but the debut generated so much social media buzz and other advance publicity that hundreds lined up and quickly wiped out his stock of 150 burgers.

Repeat appearances at Smorgasburg were followed by his debut on the opposite coast, at a Japa­nese grocery in Torrance, Calif., on Sept. 7. Local media reported that thousands showed up and the wait was up to four hours long (there’s a reason something like this is called a “craze”). Los Angeles magazine commented that it is “giving foodies with too much time on their hands something savory to Instagram about.”

June Williams read about the ramen burger online and asked for a recipe. “The photo makes me hungry,” she wrote. “It's like the ultimate fusion comfort food, burger and ramen together.”

The burger is already being widely copied, and a few recipes for the “buns” have cropped up on cooking websites and blogs. I made a few, and the results are worth it for the novelty. They look like the real thing, they’re crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, but I doubt that they’re a match in taste. For one thing, I used packaged dry ramen, which I’m sure is no comparison to the noodles Shi­ma­moto has made for him by Sun Noodle (based in Hono­lulu, but with a factory in New Jersey).

To make them, you’ll need several bun-sized circular molds. If you are well stocked in ramekins, those would work, but I used plastic tubs — the type that margarine comes in, or takeout poke.

The recipe that follows is only for the buns, which is really the point of the sandwich. You’re on your own with the burger. Shi­ma­moto’s official Shoyu Ramen Burgers have a “secret sauce” and are served with aru­gula and chopped green onions.

I could see these buns used to make sandwiches with anything you’d normally eat with ramen — thin slices of teri­yaki beef, kalua pork with grilled onions, a fat slice of Spam with tomato and lettuce, sliced kalbi topped with chopped kim chee …

By the way, if it’s too much trouble to make your own, Tanaka Saimin (888 N. Nimitz Highway, 524-2020) is selling a saimin burger with a small bowl of saimin broth on the side for $8.95.

And if you are a true ramen fan, follow Shi­ma­moto’s ramen adventures at goramen.com. He studied ramen making in Japan and is serious about the art.


1 (3-ounce) package dry ramen noodles, any flavor, with seasoning packet
1 egg
3 round plastic containers, 4 inches in diameter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Bring pot of water to boil. Add noodles and seasoning packet. Cook until noodles are tender but not too soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain; let cool to room temperature.

Place noodles in bowl. Beat egg and pour over noodles, tossing to coat well. Divide noodles between 2 plastic containers. Top each with piece of plastic wrap or baking parchment. Place 1 container on top of the other. Place third container on top of stack. Place a weight such as a can of beans into the top container. Place entire stack in refrigerator and chill about 1 hour.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high. Carefully remove ramen buns from containers and place in oil. Fry until light brown and crisp. Turn buns (add more oil if needed). Fry until done on other side. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Serves 1.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Write “By Request,” Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email requests to bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.com.

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HonoluluHawaii wrote:
It will be mainstream when Zippy's adopts it.
on September 18,2013 | 05:43AM
Jng wrote:
I'll have a bowl of ramen with soup and an in-n-out burger seperate , please! My son waited 4 hours at Mitsuwa's in Torrance and said it's overrated. $8 burger?
on September 18,2013 | 06:18AM
Ewasohappy wrote:
At the end of the recipe the last sentence is Nutritional information unavailable. There is a good reason for that.
on September 18,2013 | 08:35AM
gtracer66 wrote:
Sounds like a lot of work for a burger.
on September 18,2013 | 09:25AM
DinoMax wrote:
Actually, this was not created by the guy in NY. When we went to Japan in May 2013, ramen burgers were being offered as the special of the month at Lotteria. We went by the place to try it, but my husband was not interested in it, so we kept walking.
on September 18,2013 | 10:01AM
cojef wrote:
Guess if it is not fad item, people will not try something new. For me a regular sesame seed bun and plain old hamburger suits me fine. No fancy smangy burger for me.
on September 18,2013 | 11:28AM
primo1 wrote:
Hamburger cake noodle.
on September 18,2013 | 12:08PM
control wrote:
why not make it a spam burger? since we normally eat saimin with spam, why not just make a spam burger with those noodles?
on September 18,2013 | 01:32PM
kuewa wrote:
Doesn't look so ono to me. Too dry. Ramen loco moco would be better.
on September 18,2013 | 02:07PM
2NDC wrote:
on September 18,2013 | 11:32PM
june7 wrote:
MAHALO for making and testing this recipe! I have my ramen and eggs, now need to go find another plastic container. Eggs and ramen go together perfectly. I'm looking forward to eating this with hamburger or SPAM. All you negative people - that's okay, you can have your plain bread buns!
on September 23,2013 | 01:45PM
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