Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Hiyashi chuka is the ideal ramen companion - a cold ramen on brutally hot days. This delicious and refreshing ramen dish means "chilled Chinese" and is served throughout Japan during the summer.
1929 Start / The Toppings
Chinese restaurant Yosuko Saikan in Jimbocho, Tokyo is credited with its creation in 1929. Supposedly, the owner was in the middle of a noodle meal when he was struck by the idea of a Mount Fuji-inspired cold ramen. This eventually became hiyashi chuka. It appropriately features a mountain of noodles surrounded by sliced egg omelette, cucumber, ham, shiitake, snow peas, and other toppings.
Today the same toppings are commonplace but can vary from shop to shop. For example, bean sprouts and benishouga ginger are quite popular too. Regardless, the toppings are almost always a colorful arrangement.
The Sweet Broth / Another Originator?
In hiyashi chuka, there's less broth and it's generally light and on the sweeter side. It can include vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, or even chili oil.
There's yet another ramen shop credited with this dish and it's believed that they were the first to use sweet vinegar seasoning. In 1937, Ryutei in Sendai (Miyagi prefecture) apparently created a cold ramen to combat slumping summer ramen sales. Viola - another hiyashi chuka was born!
In this sense, we really have 2 ramen shops to thank for hiyashi chuka. In Osaka they call it Reimen and in Hokkaido, Hiyashi Ramen. If you're in Japan in the summer - whenever that may be - make sure to give this magical ramen a try.