How many styles of ramen are there?
More than 32,000 ramen restaurants can be found in Japan, many of which are crowded and have lineups extending out the door. What is now considered the nation’s unofficial national cuisine is a wheat noodle soup that was first created centuries ago in China. Ramen is the Japanese word for what is known as lamian, or Chinese wheat noodles.
According to the Yokohama Ramen Museum, ramen traveled from China to Japan in 1859, and since then the soup has gone from a cheap, fast meal option to a dish worthy of Michelin stars. In Japan, tiny ramen shops with just a handful of counter seats are tucked into subway stations, atop rickety stairs and sandwiched between storefronts throughout the city. Diners often sit shoulder to shoulder, slurping noodles and watching as the ramen shokunin cooks noodles in boiling water while, as if choreographed, ladling soup into bowls. While four main ramen styles have emerged, it’s important to understand that ramen is very regional in Japan and many more styles exist. Those who live on the southwestern island of Kyushu eat ramen. Every prefecture on the island, and sometimes even specific cities within prefectures, prepares their own version of noodle soup. There is an infinite world of ramen, and we have put together a guide to the most common styles.
Ramen is particularly localized in Japan, and there are innumerable additional types, despite the fact that four primary ramen styles have emerged (as described below). For instance, those who live on the island of Kyushu in the southwest consume tonkotsu (pork) ramen. But more specifically, each island prefecture, and occasionally even particular cities within prefectures, makes its own, more complex version of the noodle soup. Despite the fact that there are countless varieties of ramen, we have created a comprehensive overview of the most popular types.
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Shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce, and this lighter style of ramen is flavored with just that. It’s one of the world’s most popular types of ramen, and it was invented in 1910 at a ramen shop in Tokyo called Raairaiken.
It’s not just the kind of soy sauce that makes Shoyu Ramen special; it’s the recipe that gives Shoyu Ramen its flavor. They make their base sauce by simmering a mixture of dried seafood, dried mushrooms, and herbs. Tare is usually mixed with a chicken broth base.
While pig or shellfish may also be used, the basic broth for shio (or salt) ramen is often made using chicken. This lighter-bodied, lighter-flavored, lower-fat, and lower-oil ramen is the saltiest of the bunch and frequently appears transparent.
The fermented soy bean paste of the same name, which can be prepared from soybeans, rice, or miso and is either white or red, is used to flavor miso ramen, as its name suggests. The thicker, more complex, umami-rich kind of ramen that is now popular throughout Japan originated in the Hokkaido area.
One of the richest ramen brands in Japan is Tonkotsu, which was born in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Tonkotsu is a thick, creamy soup made from simmered pork bones. Tonkotsu is so thick and creamy, you can coat the back of a spoon with it. Tonkotsu shokunin are also common flavors for tonkotsu shokunin, but beef is considered to be the “national dish” of Japan, whereas pork is more commonly used in regional Japanese dishes.
A popular subcategory of tonkotsu is hakata ramen, which also originated in Fukuoka. Super creamy white, extra-rich, tonkotsu ramen is often served with thin, hard noodles and minimal toppings. Hakata ramen is made this way because the store that invented hakata ramen is just a stand without chairs, and selling fast-cooking thin noodles makes sense for fast customer service.
What ramen should I try first?
It really depends on you. The beauty of picking out something to eat is that it doesn’t need to go by the books. Pick something out on a menu and try what kind of thing pops out the most for you (even if you don’t understand the name). Menus also have pictures, so decide from there.
More is lost by indecision, rather than the wrong decision. Book a reservation now! We are committed to serve the best hibachi, sushi, ramen, and other Asian cuisine to our neighbors.