Ramen, ramen...where shall we begin? Ramen is everywhere, from instant noodles to formal dining. Ramen is now known worldwide with famous chains around the world, such as Ichiran.
Here in Japan, ramen is soul food, perfect for cold winter days or even after a long night out with mates. Although there are Michelin star restaurants, most treasures are tucked away in department buildings or sandwiched between other food stalls. Once you enter, you’ll always find a bustling kitchen with salarymen and students alike slurping on delicious noodles.
To be considered ramen, the noodle dough must contain kansui, a salty, alkaline liquid mixed in with the flour to give them that springy texture we all love.
Although there are loads of ramen under the “ramen umbrella,” they all vary in broth flavor, toppings, and noodle types. The three primary flavors are Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy sauce), and Miso (fermented soybean paste).
In today’s blog, we will guide you through the six Japanese ramen types you should try as well as recommend some ramen we love and are sure you will too.
All the ramen we recommend are authentic ramen approved by the very best ramen shops around Japan. The ramen noodle is half cooked to keep it fresher than instant noodles and comes with broth both created by the famous restaurants themselves. So, you can try renowned ramen no matter where you are in the world.
Shio (salt) RamenImage by DeagoFrank via Reddit
Shio ramen is one of the four primary flavors of ramen, and the saltiest of them all yet the lightest in terms of oil.
Shio ramen is the oldest fundamental type. The broth is made from salt, chicken, fish, vegetables, and seaweed. The soup is a lighter broth color compared to other ramen types because the base isn’t boiled for very long, allowing the soup to stay clear. Unsurprisingly, giving it a lighter taste.
Sapporo Ichiban is one of the most popular instant Japanese noodles when it comes to the salted ramen. The broth has an original rich flavor of chicken with salted ramen noodles. The noodles also come with separate sachets of spices to give the ramen that extra kick.
Shop Sapporo Ichiban Ramen
You can also find salted ramen packs from the top restaurants around Japan, including the famous Hirugao located on Ramen Street in Tokyo. Hirugao ramen has won a high reputation due to its exquisite combination of chicken bones, dried sardines, and other seafood to create the perfect blend of saltiness. The ramen is typically topped with chashu pork, egg, and seaweed.
If you want to try top tier Shio Ramen, we recommend our Hirugao gift pack that contains two portions of noodles trademarked by the restaurant owner. You’ll be sure you’re getting the authentic taste no matter where you are in the world.
Shop Hirugao Shio Ramen
Discover more Shio Ramen
Shoyu (soy sauce) Ramen
Image by Rocket24
Don’t be fooled; this isn’t just table soy sauce. Depending on what is swirled in with the broth or how much soy sauce is in the soup, it could take on a light or dark brown broth. Like Shio Ramen, it is usually made of chicken broth as well as other meats, including pork, beef, or fish, depending on the region of Japan.
Shoyu ramen is possibly the most common ramen found in Japan, meaning there’s even more choice between the good and the delicious.
Our favorite soy sauce ramen from top restaurants in Japan is Asahikawa’s Aoba Ramen and Kitakata 's Ominato Ajihei Ramen.
Aoba ramen has a delicious soy sauce soup entwined with pork bones, chicken, bonito flakes, dried sardine, and vegetables. The first Aoba ramen stall started in 1922 by Yoshiya Murayama, and now is in its third generation.
Shop Aoba Shoyu Ramen
Kitakata ramen can be found in most parts of Japan and can vary depending on which city you are in, but our favorite is Ominato Ajihei. This exquisite style of Kitakata ramen has a flavorsome dark broth, medium-thick noodles with a firm texture. The ramen and soy sauce flavor is well-matched and will feel you up. It is one of our favorite small ramen restaurants in Japan. Luckily with their gift kits, you can enjoy their authentic ramen taste anywhere in the world.
Shop Kitakata Ajihei Ramen
Discover more Shoyu Ramen
Miso (soybean paste) ramen is a noodle soup flavored with miso, resulting in a thick brown and rich flavor. Like Shio ramen, Miso ramen also originates from cold Northern Hokkaido where bolder and heartier dishes are more popular.
Miso ramen gained popularity in the mid-1960s and is now found throughout Japan. It is typically paired with heavier toppings such as pork belly, bean sprouts. Due to the unique creamy texture, it is now one of the most loved versions of ramen around the world.
From instant ramen to high-quality ramen restaurant souvenirs, our current favorites are Sapporo’s Yoshiyama Shouten Ramen and Kurume Ramen Miso Blend.
Yoshiyama Shouten’s Ramen is rich in a miso and sesame taste but isn’t salty, instead, it has a slightly spicy kick. The noodles are on the thinner wavier side, which suits the bowl so well. The flavors work so well together; we recommend you give it a test if you can.
Shop Yoshiyama Miso Ramen
Although Kurume Ramen is usually considered to be a pork broth ramen, we just can’t get enough of the Miso Blend we couldn’t help ourselves but add it to our list. Kurume Ramen Miso Blend is available in Mugi Miso, White Miso, and Red Miso, but they all have a deep flavor with a hidden taste of tonkotsu.
Shop Kurume Miso Blend Ramen
Discover Miso Ramen
Tonkotsu (Pork Broth) Ramen
Tonkotsu ramen is extremely rich is flavor has a fatty pork broth and normally has a tender pork belly on top that melts in your mouth. Tonkotsu has become so popular that it could almost be a fish of its own.
Originating from the southern island of Kyushu, in Fukuoka. It was originally prepared for laborers at fish markets as an affordable fast food choice. In current times, it is famous for the number of hours it takes to prepare the dish.
If you don’t have the time to make it from scratch yourself, our favorite ramen kits containing fresh half-cooked noodles and broth will give you a head start. All you need to do is create some fresh toppings to give it that classic feel.
Our first Tonkotsu favorite is Tokushima’s Fukuri Ramen, it has been voted the best ramen restaurant in Tokushima three times, and it is still making the hall of noodle fame across Japan. With a light tonkotsu soy sauce flavor served with soba noodles, it gives a fresh twist to the regular Tonkotsu. You can enjoy it with whatever toppings you want, but we recommend you add tender pork belly, an egg, and an egg.
Shop Tokushima Fukuri Ramen
This wouldn’t be a top ramen blog without including the big gun Ichiran. Ichiran Ramen is highly-acclaimed and has started to open stores worldwide, but their tonkotsu chain first started in Fukuoka, Japan. It’s not only one of the most popular chains in Japan, but it is simply one of the best Tonkotsu Ramen out there. There high-quality ingredients and scrumptious bowls containing a secret sauce made with chili peppers and a blend of over 30 different ingredients make you want to keep going back for more.
Shop Ichiran Ramen
Browse more Tonkotsu Ramen
Tsukemen is a bit different from regular ramen. The tasty noodles (usually served at room temperature) are eaten after being dipped into a separate bowl of hot soup. The dish was invented in 1961 by a restauranteur named Kazuo Yamagishi. Since then it has become an insanely popular dish and can be found almost anywhere in Japan.
The dipping sauce is often more intense in flavor compared to your usual ramen, however, some restaurants add a bit of hot water to dilute the soup to decrease the strength of flavor.
Tomita Ramen is commonly known as one of the best ramen shops across Japan, it has won countless awards including the ramen championships in Japan. Due to Tomita’s popularity, it attracts ramen fans around Japan and the world to taste their rich, thick, and chewy noodles. If you ever think about going to the actual ramen shop, we recommend you get there early because we have waited 1-2 hours to get in even on a weekday before.
Luckily, you can create the authentic ramen at home easily thanks to their ramen kit available to be shipped worldwide. Check out the king of ramen reviews, Ramen Adventure giving it a try.
Shop Tomita Ramen
Browse more Tsukemen Ramen
Paitan (Chicken Broth) Ramen
Instead of using pork broth as a base like Tonkotsu Ramen does, Paitan Ramen uses chicken. “Paitan” refers to a white and creamy soup. If you know tonkotsu ramen but are unfamiliar with Paitan Ramen we give you the challenge of trying Paitan.
Browse Paitan Ramen
We hope you enjoyed reading our six Japanese ramen types you should try and found something that you would like to give a go.
If you would like to browse even more ramen, we recommend you check out our ramen showcase containing our full catalog of ramen store kits. If you can't find the ramen you want or if you think we missed something on this blog, let us know on our social media below.
Get The Conversation Started #ZenPlus.