I was recently contacted by a Japanese company called Nishiyama Seimen that operates out of Sapporo. I was immediately interested in this dialogue, as I don’t often get to work with a company in Japan, so that’s kind of a thrill. Well, they sent samples and although a short one, we have a Meet The Manufacturer series! Let’s start by learning a little about the company in this interview conducted with their promotional team.
THE RAMEN RATER> To start, can you give a little background on how Sapporo Nishyama Ramen was founded and a little about its history in Japan?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> In 1947, ramen shop “Darumaken” opened in Sapporo. It not only served ramen but also wholesaled raw noodles which were purchased by other ramen shops. After that, in 1953, the noodle craftsman Takayuki Nishiyama who at the time was working at “Darumaken” established “Nishiyama Noodle Company” (today “Nishiyama Seimen Co., Ltd.”). In pursuit of deliciousness, he then invented wavy noodles that are easy to be eaten with chopsticks and match greatly with soup, adding to the dough, eggs for a more attractive yellow color and a stronger texture while in soup. This is when and how yellow curvy noodles today globally associated with ramen, were born.
TRR> For those who might not be familiar with all of them, what ranges of noodle products to you offer?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> We manufacture a variety of noodles, from professional products for ramen stores and restaurants to household products. About 90% of our total production is ramen, but we also manufacture udon noodles, soba buckwheat noodles, pasta, frozen noodles, boiled noodles and gyoza dumplings and shumai skins.
TRR> How do your products differ from instant noodles?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> Instant noodles are made to bring their taste closer to those you can experience in a ramen specialty stores. Our noodles are on the contrary, real noodles that are actually used in specialty stores.
TRR> How do you determine when it is time to retire a variety and how do you go about determining a new one to offer?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> We sell our products to more than 3500 ramen specialty stores, and more to 9000 restaurants and canteens. We are aware that tastes change depending on area and age of costumers. We also put great effort in catching information about new trends in advance, to always offer best products.
TRR> I am often asked if I am worried about sodium levels in all the different instant noodles from around the world I review. How would you recommend people balance their enjoyment of instant noodles and keeping them as part of a healthy meal?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> The key to determining the taste of ramen is the balance of noodles, soup, and toppings. You can freely choose and enjoy these last as you prefer. Toppings that you like, toppings that you want your family to eat, toppings that suit your physical condition and health, etc. Soup is a mineral and umami source which can be made from various ingredients like vegetables. Noodles have the role of harmonizing toppings and soup. As you asked, some people care about sodium, but an appropriate amount of sodium is a necessary nutrient for the body. If you choose from which ingredients make ramen, and you choose some good for your body, this will be an incredibly healthy dish!
TRR> You’re located in Japan – can you talk about what life is like in the local community?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> Sapporo is a city surrounded by nature in the northern island of Japan. Blessed with agricultural products and seafood, it is a place where you can enjoy delicious food while seasons change in a very clean environment.
TRR> How many servings of noodles do you produce annually?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> We produce about 100,000 to 120,000 meals of noodles a day. It is about 30 million meals a year!
TRR> Are noodles the only products you manufacture?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> Besides ramen, we also make udon, soba, cold noodles, pasta, yakisoba, gyoza dumplings and shumai skins. Our affiliated company also manufacture the popular topping, char-siu roasted pork.
TRR> Can you tell my readers about any new and exciting products to look for soon?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> It is difficult to talk in short about future products, but we release about 20 new products for domestic use and about 40 for specialty stores every year. Please follow our social media to stay tuned for new products!
TRR> Where can folks find your products?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> In Japan we sell at department stores, supermarkets and souvenir shops inside train stations and airports. Then we also have an ecommerce store for those who wish to purchase our products at their home. Our branch in Europe start to sell our product online to those who live in Germany and the Netherlands. We are planning to extend it to other countries as well.
TRR> Finally, when you enjoy ramen, what kind do you like and what do you add (if anything) to them to make them your own?
NISHIYAMA SEIMEN> The best way to make delicious ramen to eat at home is first to choose a topping that makes the person smile and then to prepare soup and noodles. This is because each person has a different taste which thinks as delicious.
THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for this opportunity to do this interview!