I developed this dish as a way to pay homage to my Italian American roots while also creating a deeply personal spin on one of my favorite food trends in Tokyo at the moment: tomato ramen.

Some of the earliest memories I have of my mother involve making spaghetti and meatballs with her in the kitchen. The visceral experience years later of slurping down a hot bowl of ramen always brought me back to those pasta dinners of my childhood, joyfully devouring forkfuls of spaghetti coated in rich, tangy tomato sauce, almost always accompanied by a savory and satisfying meatball or two — not unlike the luscious chāshū pork belly slices that typically adorn a bowl of ramen.

The natural MSG in the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese in this recipe play nicely with the more traditional Japanese flavors of miso and shoyu, giving this bowl a punch that any truly special ramen experience should deliver. It can also be made at home, relatively easily compared to other types of ramen, and it’s perfect to make in large batches to enjoy over multiple meals.