2012 wasn't just a great year for Ramen Adventures, but a great year for ramen in general.
Tokyo continues to be the epicenter for amazing shops, with a handful of young chefs doing everything right. There is a balance in ramen - a balance between tradition and new thinking and variety - that keeps this rather simple food from being more than just a trend.
Make a simple shoyu or shio ramen, or maybe a tonkotsu with roots in Kyushu. Make this your winning bowl, then branch out into the realms of crazy. A few shops that come to mind, shops that follow this formula, are Soranoiro, Shono, and Basanova. There are many more.
There is a ramen boom happening in America. Still not yet a boom of new shops, but a boom of interest. The coastal food meccas have a few shops, with more to come, and I think by the end of this year any big city that a randomly thrown dart on the map hits will have something to try. I hope they do things right. I hope that ramen in America will be like what it is here. Small shops that refuse press, old guys making one menu item for their entire life, long lines on the streets, health code violations. Not just hipster hangouts that seem like they are designed for twitter and instagram.
As for things on my side of the Pacific, Ramen Adventures has completed its 2012 New Years Resolution. I made a simple goal for the site; one post every three days. Sure, that's barely more than two bowls a week, but with my out of town work, seasonal summer camps in the middle of nowhere, and refusal to post about the same shop twice, it worked out well. For 2013, I'm challenging myself with one post every two days. Wish me luck.
I also completed a new project, a one-day ramen class for English speakers! If you plan on visiting Japan, or live here and can get to Osaka sometime, we have an intensive eight hours of all things ramen for you. Soup from scratch, tare from scratch, toppings and noodles from scratch. Spread the word!
The weekly column with 週プレ (Weekly Playboy) is still going strong. Every week we talk in depth about ramen shops, ramen culture, and our ramen travels. One of our strong points, in my opinion, is that we give insightful negative reviews, something that is completely lacking in Japanese media. Food is not always oishi!
Other media appearances include being named a Yahoo! Ramen Ambassador, a few TV spots, and some writing gigs. If you want to be updated on this sort of thing, and a better place to discuss ramen, please check out the Ramen Adventures facebook page.