Regional Japanese Ramen and Where to Find Them
Ramen is deeply embedded in Japanese culture—so much so that different regions in the country cook it in various ways. They may differ in ingredients and in the way they are prepared, but you can always get the sumptuous taste you yearn for with each bowl of this Japanese noodle dish.
Wherever you are in Japan, may it be in the megacities or in the countryside, there are restaurants that sell the best-tasting ramen to satisfy your taste buds. Here are five types of regional ramen you should try and where to find them:
1. Hakata Ramen (Fukuoka)
One of the most popular types of ramen is Hakata ramen or tonkotsu ramen. Originating in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, the noodles of this ramen are thinner compared to others which makes it easy to cook. From extra firm to extra soft, the firmness of the noodles can be adjusted based on your liking.
Hakata ramen’s cloudy and smooth-tasting soup is made by boiling pork. Green onions and roasted or boiled pork are used as toppings.
Another interesting fact about eating this ramen is that you can ask for extra noodles from the restaurant after you have consumed the noodles from your initial order. This is called the "kaedama" system.
This ramen is so popular that even Filipino actor and host Robi Domingo did not miss the chance to eat a bowl of Hakata ramen during his trip to Japan.
2. Sapporo Ramen (Hokkaido)
Sapporo ramen is a popular type of Japanese noodle dish from Hokkaido with medium thick and wavy noodles. The shape of the noodles is said to hold the soup excellently, which makes the noodles very tasty.
It contains miso soup which is usually made from pig bones and chicken bits, but some also use a combination of pig bones and a variety of seafood. This ramen contains a lot of vegetables which makes it a nutritious option. Creamy butter and sweet corn are usually used as its toppings.
Though Sapporo ramen is best known for its miso soup, there are also restaurants that use salt and soy sauce-based broths. Today, there are various restaurants in Sapporo City and nearby areas serving this ramen.
3. Kitakata Ramen (Fukushima)
Dubbed as “hirauchi jukusei taka suimen” or “matured flat noodles with lots of water,” this ramen, which originated in Kitakata City, Western Fukushima, has four-millimeter-wide noodles that are flattened and curled. When you eat this noodle dish, you will notice that the texture of the noodles is firm because they have been matured for a lengthy period.
The soup of Kitakata ramen is usually soy sauce-based which combines perfectly with the noodles. However, there is no standard type of soup that goes with Kitakata ramen. Its rich and delicious flavor is attributed to the tap water used in its soup which contains water from the Tsugamine Stream.
If you are yearning to eat a bowl of this excellent ramen, head to Kitakata City and you will find more than a hundred restaurants serving it.
4. Toyama Black Ramen (Toyama)
If you happen to visit Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture, you will surely notice the ramen with jet-black soup being served in restaurants in the area.
This unique ramen is called Toyama black ramen. The color of this ramen’s soup is achieved by combining black soy sauce with chicken and fish stock. Roasted pork is simmered in this black soup which contributes to its rich flavor, with green onions and black pepper also mixed. There are other various options for toppings, such as egg if you want to make the taste milder.
Today, there is already a cup noodle version of the Toyama black ramen that was first released in 2007, but the best way to eat this is, of course, dining at a restaurant. If you want to try it, there are many restaurants in Toyama that you can visit. Each restaurant has its own unique touch on Toyama black ramen.
5. Tokushima Ramen (Tokushima)
Originating in Tokushima Prefecture, Tokushima ramen is best known for its brown soup produced by mixing pork bone broth with dark soy sauce or Tamari soy sauce. It is usually topped with sliced pork, bean sprouts, green onions, and raw egg.
Though brown soup is always associated with Tokushima ramen, there are also yellow and white soups for this type of noodle dish. Tokushima ramen with yellow soup is achieved by mixing chicken and vegetable broth with light-colored soy sauce. Meanwhile, the ramen with the white soup uses pork bone broth mixed with light-colored or white soy sauce.
There are various restaurants in Tokushima that serve different types of this ramen. All variants of Tokushima ramen taste both salty and sweet.