From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.
Hiro Hasegawa is a total food hero. He is a walking database of Japanese ramen shops and schools. When he first came to the United States, he suddenly realized that America’s milestone of quality ramen was far from good. In Japan, ramen culture is so diverse and sophisticated that some shops win Michelin stars for the dish. U.S. culture was very different.
Bringing Ramen to the U.S.
Hasegawa sees two main obstacles to overcome: culture and quality.
Ramen is more than a meal, it is a huge cultural movement. It is spreading across the globe like never before. Its Asian culture just needs to be reinforced.
In the United States, 4.2 billion instant ramen are consumed annually, and the number of ramen shop has doubled in the last five years. There are very few authentic ramen shops in the market. Those that are, are typically very popular and this force customers to wait in long lines. People in the U.S. want authentic ramen, but there is no easy way to get it.
Hasegawa, who likes to think of himself as an evangelist of ramen culture, founded Ramen Hero to enable anyone who wants to make high-quality, home-made ramen. Ramen Hero is a meal kit service, forcing people to get closer to ramen culture and be a part of the cooking process while enjoying a high-quality product. “We believe in authentic taste so our broth is boiled for more than 6 hours from scratch,” says Hasegawa, “All of our recipes are made by a professional ramen chef.”
Hasegawa discovered through user interviews that millennials, was his largest market. The demographic often seeks new discoveries and develops new eating habits. They are the quickest to get bored with the same lunch and dinner that their company provides or their parents make for them at home. Ramen is perceived as intriguing and healthy, fulfilling a millennials’ curiosity for other cultures. Furthermore, ramen is a great social food. Ramen parties are becoming more and more popular, setting the bases for a new social trend. “As our customers read our recipe card and boil the noodle by themselves” Hasegawa says, “they can explore, learn, and make; digging in the deep world of ramen.”