Most Americans know ramen only in the 5000-pack for a buck instant variety and as “starving college student food.” But ramen is so much more. Anyone who’s ever spent some time in Japan will know that “real” ramen permeates the culture there, and even their instant ramen is light years ahead of the cheap “brick” ramen you can buy here. Happily, “real” ramen is making inroads in the U.S. as well.

I love ramen, and I want to share my love of ramen with you. Of the 4 most popular types of ramen out there, shoyu is definitely my favorite, though I try not to be too biased. I know what I like and this is my attempt to describe my encounters with the ramen world.