It goes without saying that in Japan there would be a couple pieces of ramen literature to choose from. Guidebooks, recipe books, and even ramen trivia books are available anywhere books are sold. Here's a few, both from my collection and from the ones I bought for my new ramen friend.
ラーメンバンク (Ramen Bank) is a monthly free publication. You can pick it up at select ramen shops. Each issue focuses on a certain area in Tokyo, with reviews and interviews. It's a bit sparse, but since it doesn't cost you anything, who can complain!
東京圏のご当地ラーメン (Local Shops in the Tokyo Area) not only explains all the different local styles of ramen around Japan, but it gives you spots the Tokyo area where you can try those bowls. Ever wonder what Kobe ramen is like?
女子ラーメン部 (Girl's Ramen Club) is aimed at the ladies, with shops featuring healthy fare and posh interiors. I like this book, it's the most artistic of the lot. And trust me, taking a girl to somewhere like Ikaruga is a much better date than Jiro. Field tested!
The Walker series of magazines is very extensive. There is a Walker for everything and everyplace. Tokyo Walker, Museum Walker, Highway Rest Are Walker (I'm not making this up). The idea is simple. Pick up this info rich mag and start walking! Above is the Fukuoka version. Yes, each city not only has a general Walker (cafes, nightlife, sightseeing, etc.) but some cities have their own ramen specific versions.
Of course Tokyo has one. Info on 363 shops it says. Ramen Walker is so packed with info, that it's a bit of an overload. But when you are in a strange part of town, just whip it out (or pop into a local convenience store to borrow a copy) and you're bound to find something good nearby.
噂のラーメン (Ramen Rumors 2010) Another info rich annual book. A bit of information about trends and new shops and rumors. Will curry ramen or salt ramen be the next big boom?
佐野実のラーメン革命 (Sano's True Ramen Revolution) is a book from the "ramen nazi" himself, showcasing some of his favorites. If you get the approval of this guy, you and your shop are set for life. Just ask the 5 chefs who are featured. Don't let the grimaces deter you, this is some of the best stuff around.
And anyone who has a 2 page spread for Junk Garage is OK with me!
ラーメンが好きつ！(I love ramen!) is a quiz book I found today. Q: Where is spicy tsukemen from? A: Hiroshima. This book is pretty interesting, and it has some info about shops as well.
無化調ラーメンMAP (Additive Free Ramen Map) is part of the MAP series of books. This one features preservative free ramen. Great if you don't want any MSG, which is a common ingredient in ramen here in Japan. There is another one in the series that shows off nostalgic ramen shops, and a few for the prefectures that neighbor Tokyo (Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba).
These are more instructional manuals. The one on the left has some interesting interviews with top guys in the industry.
The one on the right has great step by step instructions (lots of color photos) for making the stuff. If you were to read this book cover to cover (Japanese ability a plus), you could jump right into the world of ramen and start making it yourself. I like that they really go into depth, not with a generic recipe, but with recipes from popular shops.
Searching for "ラーメン" on the Japanese Amazon site yields thousands of results, by the way.
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