The ramen is one remarkable dish. From a snack of convenience to a rainy day favorite of foodies, this noodle dish has transcended time as it continuously reinvents itself to fit the diners’ palate.
Its reinvention has transcended borders, too. Right now, instant ramen can be found most anywhere in the world. However, the best ramen is still said to be found in the Land of the Rising Sun. And despite the dish’s murky origin, the different regions of Japan have come up with different versions of this soupy bowl of goodness — so many, in fact, that a traveler’s ramen experience may differ as he travels in every area in the country!
Starting to feel lost even before your feet have touched foreign soil? Here are the different ramen types per region you’d need to know before it even touches your lips:
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen
The pork-bone broth ramen from this city in Fukuoka is particularly popular among tourists from all over the world. The thin noodles mixed with its rich and milky broth and seafood cutlets has become a distinguishable characteristic of the Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen. Choose how your noodles are prepared: firm to the bite or pleasantly soft.
Sapporo Miso Ramen
Miso ramen is a specialty of Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost part of Hokkaido. The noodles of this ramen comes with a variety of toppings such as slices of pork belly, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, corn and bamboo shoots. The hearty broth of the dish laced with chili oil perfectly blends with the creaminess of the corn — perfect to battle Sapporos’ usually cold climate.
Eat when: you’ve just finished touring either the area’s mountain attractions or the town’s warm yet refreshing neighbourhood. Swap what you liked most about your sightseeing trip over a bowl of steaming goodness at Ramen Mokuren with your loved ones.
Onomichi is a seaside town in Hiroshima located at the Seto Inland Sea. So naturally, fresh local seafood is the secret behind their regional style of ramen. This ramen also contains chicken and a bit of pork, and it is the layer of rich pork back fat in each bowl that actually makes the taste of this shoyu-based broth sensational.
Eat when: you’ve just finished taking a cold dip in the sea. Bring a hefty appetite to Ramen Matatabi located near the local markets and feel warm as their hospitable servers offer large servings of this type of ramen.
Nagoya “Taiwan” Ramen
Though called “Taiwan ramen,” Nagoya’s local style of ramen isn’t a direct import from Taiwan, but instead inspired by it. It is named after the Taiwanese chef who invented the dish based on Taiwanese danzai noodles. This dish is consist of ramen noodles in shoyu broth, spicy ground pork and nira (garlic chives). Because of that extra hot oomph, this has held strong and remained popular over the decades.
Eat when: you’re feeling adventurous and spontaneous, and need to try a flavorful explosion in your mouth. To truly match your spontaneity, try Nagoya’s famous Taiwan ramen at the the Men-ichi Restaurant, its ambience bright and lively.
Kagoshima is the only place in Kyushu that wasn’t influence by Kurume City’s heavy tonkotsu ramen. Instead, broth of pork, chicken, dried sardines, vegetables and dried shiitake mushrooms, topped with scorched scallions. This cloudy soup has a mild flavor quite distinct from other Kyushu-area ramens. That alone is enough to keep you coming back for more.
Eat when: the weather is neither too hot or too cold, like during spring or winter break. Feel right at home at Ramen Kagetsu as you realize that the uniqueness of the Naples of the Eastern go beyond the type of ramen they serve.
Although not specifically a type of ramen, champon is a regional dish from Nagasaki made with thick egg noodles that’s quite similar. The noodles are cooked directly in soup along with meat, vegetables and seafood. Champon was originally known as a budget food item for Chinese students studying in the Nagasaki area. While ramen is already known to be Chinese in origin, the presence of the champon fused together Chinese and Japanese food cultures even more, resulting to one of the most sought out ramens in Nagasaki.
Eat when: you need that extra boost before going on a work or study all-nighter. Get energized with its thick egg noodles that gives brain-boosting proteins at the Yokohama Shianbashi.