Ramen is a bowl of noodles, broth, spices and destitution that you'll find in college dorms and poverty-stricken homes across the U.S. It sells for pennies for a dried package.
In Japan, it has a better reputation -- ramen is a street food, kind of like hot dogs or kebabs. The most you should expect to pay there is $10 off a vendor in Tokyo. The most you should expect to pay for ramen in the U.S. is a simple "thanks" for your buddy's roommate down the hall.
"No problem. Maybe we could hang later? No? OK. Cool."
But no matter where you go, ramen is comfort food -- a rush of warm salt and fat that makes you wonder why people feel the need to spend actual money on food with ingredients they can identify. But once you've moved up in the world, like after your patent for the self-lighting bong goes through, you're not going to be allowed to sit down at the dinner table with your trophy wife and three kids and cram your face into a steaming bowl of ramen.
Unless you pay $110 for a super-fancy bowl of ramen. BEHOLD:
It could use a slice of Kraft cheese and a few diced up hot dogs.
You'll have to go to a particular Tokyo restaurant (Fujimaki Gekijo) to get it, and you'll need to make reservations well in advance. What do you get for your money? Well, it's ... basically the same stuff. But with more pretension, as Chef Shoichi Fujimaki has no problem telling you:
"Usually a product is 80 percent materials and 20 percent effort. But for me, it is the opposite. To be honest, my ingredients are basically the same as when I was selling ramen for 1,000 yen ($13)."
"People are so stupid it sometimes makes my head hurt."