Served in many restaurants across Japan, ramen is a popular dish and has many fans. In addition, ramen is also revered for its culinary complexity, from the flavor of the broth to the texture of the noodles. Ramen which was once a labor dinner has now turned into a culinary embodiment that won a Michelin star in December 2015.
Modern ramen restaurants have many variations of serving, ranging from broth, such as tonkotsu, shoyu, and miso. Some ramen have thick noodles and others have thin noodles. Some ramen is eaten cold, hot, with sauce, and some noodles are served in gravy. To know about the most popular types of Japanese ramen, see the reviews in the following article.
This is a type of ramen where the noodles are served dry on a plate. The broth is concentrated into a thick soup and served separately. The idea is to dip each bite of the noodles into the thick gravy before it goes straight into the mouth.
Because of the way they eat it, Tsukemen usually means Dipping Ramen. The broth doesn’t have a traditional taste, and this ramen only depends on what kind of sauce the ramen shop specializes in.
There are two reasons why certain people prefer tsukemen. The first is because the taste is quite strong, but not too salty compared to regular ramen, and the second is because the noodles are lukewarm when eaten, so they can be eaten very quickly.
Shio ramen is distinguished by its use of salt as the main seasoning in the broth, this ramen is one of the four main categories of flavor-based ramen. Not unlike the other most popular types of Japanese ramen, this ramen combines three essential elements: broth, noodles, and toppings.
While pork is sometimes added, most versions of Shio Ramen use seafood or chicken-based broth, which results in a light, clear sauce with a strong, salty taste.
Usually, the broth is paired with straight, thin noodles, and is topped with chashu, which is grilled or braised belly fat, scallions, hard-boiled eggs, and wakame seaweed.
Since salt is the oldest spice used in ramen, shio is considered the oldest version of ramen, and although there is no solid evidence, many people believe that this ramen was invented in Hakodate, which is still the common type of ramen in the area.
One of the most flavorful ramens in Japan is tonkotsu. This type of ramen was born in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu and then eventually spread throughout Japan, with each prefecture, and even certain cities, able to create their style.
Tonkotsu is one of the most popular types of Japanese ramen. It is thick, creamy, complex in texture, and made from braised pork bones. Crushed bone releases collagen as it cooks, meaning the tonkotsu can be so thick that it coats the back of a spoon.
Tonkotsu shokunin or their makers often fortify their stock that is already rich in lard or chicken. A popular sub-category of tonkotsu ramen is Hakata ramen which is also from Fukuoka.
This super thick and milky tonkotsu is often served with thin and hard noodles and minimal toppings. This is because the shop that invented the Hakata Ramen does not provide seats and serves thin noodles that cook quickly enough for fast service.
Shoyu is the Japanese word for Japanese soy sauce, and this lighter style of ramen is flavored with this Japanese soy sauce. This ramen can appear clear brown or darker and cloudy. Shoyu is the single most common type of ramen.
This most popular type of Japanese ramen was invented in 1910 at a ramen shop called Rairaiken in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood. Although Japanese soy sauce is an everyday ingredient, chefs who serve shoyu ramen don’t use the kind of soy sauce you might have at home.
Instead, the chefs make the tare, or base sauce, using a secret blend of ingredients such as dried seafood, dried mushrooms, and spices. This tare is often mixed with chicken stock.
Champon is a Nagasaki specialty that was invented by a Chinese cook in the Meiji era. This dish is almost the same as affordable fast food, for Chinese students who are studying there.
This ramen is the most Chinois of all ramen and nowadays Champon is served in every restaurant in Nagasaki’s Chinatown. Shikairo restaurant is said to be home to Nagasaki’s famous Champon. You could say Champon is the only ramen from Kyushu that doesn’t use Tonkotsu soup. Different from other ramen, Champon uses special noodles cooked with its sauce. This ramen is served with stir-fried pork, seafood, and fried cabbage.
Miso ramen is a flavorful dish made by cooking a miso base, stock, and vegetables made in a skillet. Then the ingredients are sprinkled with bean sprouts, minced pork, sweet corn, garlic, and sometimes local seafood such as clams, crab, and squid.
Founded in Sapporo in 1955, this ramen was created when a customer at the Aji no Sanpei noodle house asked the chef to add noodles to his pork and miso soup.
Miso ramen’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1960s and Sapporo is still a ramen lover’s paradise and is proud of its Ramen Alley, which has more than a dozen ramen shops dotted along the streets.
- Hiyashi Chuka
Translated as ‘Cold Chinese’ noodles Hiyashi Chuka does not originate from China but was first invented by a Chinese restaurant in Japan, which is said to be from the city of Sendai. This type of ramen is served cold with a sweet sauce and is traditionally served in the summer.
This ramen makes a refreshing cold alternative to hot ramen in the days before the air conditioner was used. The reason is, that some restaurants still serve this ramen only in the summer.
So all of Hiyashi Chuka’s signature ingredients, cucumber, omelet, ham, and crab cakes are things that taste great chilled. Hiyashi Chuka has two main variants, namely the standard which uses vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce-based sauce, and Goma which uses sesame sauce.
Another type of dry ramen is famous in Japan, but not like the dry ramen mentioned earlier. But maybe this ramen is the best ‘dry’ type of ramen.
Ramen Abura, which is also called Mazesoba when using buckwheat noodles, is best described as combining Tsukemen and Hiyashi Chuka into a ramen style that resembles Italian pasta.
In essence, these noodles are stuffed into a fleshy tsukemen-like sauce enriched with oil and vinegar. Sometimes this ramen is also topped with raw egg as a thickener for the sauce, as seen in Fettuccine Carbonara.
Toppings vary but usually diced charshu and chopped scallions. The result is soup-flavored ramen, but not soup. Ramen Abura is served with goldilocks temperature, which is neither cold like Hiyashi Chuka nor hot like Tsukemen.
Ramen kogashi means charred or charred miso ramen. Kogashi, which means charred, is a type of traditional Japanese ramen. Usually, this ramen is made with a combination of sliced pork, ramen noodles, lard, cabbage, boiled egg, fish cake, grilled nori seaweed, Japanese soy sauce or miso, and broth.
This dish originates from Hakata and was created by Shigemi Kawahara in 2000. Its black, thick, slightly bitter and umami-filled broth is the hallmark of this ramen. The noodles should also be a little thicker to keep the broth hot.
when served, the kogashi will be brewed slowly, while the noodles should be slurped as they cool with the help of the air that is sucked in while eating them.
Usually, the ramen eaten around Asahikawa uses a broth made from seafood, pork bones, and chicken bones, and is seasoned with soy sauce. The rich and thick gravy is complemented by a distinctive layer of fat that floats on top, so it doesn’t get cold.
Santoka is a popular Asahikawa restaurant, with branches throughout Japan, and even in Southeast Asia and North America. Ramen at Santoka has a cloudy white sauce that is not too thick and is also equipped with small plums.
Ramen, which was originally only food for workers, has now gone up in class. This dish has even earned a Michelin star. Although it looks simple, ramen has complexity in the broth and noodles.
In addition, ramen also has many types and origins. Some regions have their special ramen. People who come to Japan will not miss tasting ramen. Have you ever tasted any of the types of ramen above?