If instant ramen inventor Momofuku Ando were still alive, today would be his 105th birthday. The noodle revolutionary died in 2007 at age 96, but his legacy lives on. Vox reports that in a 2000 poll, Japanese people ranked instant ramen as the country’s top 20th-century invention.
The tale of how a Taiwanese immigrant took Japan’s noodle game to the top and changed snacking for generations to come isn’t completely clear. What we do know is that Ando—who was born Wu Baifu in 1910 in Taiwan—moved to Japan after WWII and didn’t invent the miraculous staple foodstuff of college dorms everywhere until he was 48.
Ando started the Nissin noodle company in 1958, when he discovered that par-cooking ramen by flash-frying it meant it would cook pretty much instantly if you applied boiling water. In 1971, Ando sealed the deal by inventing Cup Noodles. While the company has had many imitators and competitors, Momofuku Ando will forever be credited as the man who started ramen’s global reign of dominance.
Ramen has become a king of the modern-day food world, but even Ando couldn’t have possibly dreamt of what cooks would create using his instant noodles. To celebrate Ando’s would-be birthday, we rounded up the most incredible modern ramen mashups. The sainted father of ramen would either be delighted or horrified by these inventions.
The Ramen Burger
We can’t talk about ramen mashups without mentioning Keizo Shimamoto’s infamous Ramen Burger—a Japanese novelty re-engineered with stateside sensibilities. We think Ando would have loved this, especially the version Shimamoto modeled after a Double Double from In-N-Out. (Photo: Instagram/ramenburger)
This one’s a little more complicated, since David Chang chose, in his infinite wisdom, to grind up ramen noodles into flour and then use those to make lasagna noodle sheets. So does this one really count? It’s secret spy ramen—of course it counts! Chang posted the full recipe here if you want to try this at home.