Ramen… one of my favorite Japanese foods… I am certainly not an expert in the topic, but I am definitely a fan. Maybe even a little obsessed!
Its a very popular dish, normally a broth that can be made from pork, chicken, fish… together with noodles. These vary in thickness and texture dependent on the type of ramen and the shop where you get it. From what I have read, it is a dish that has existed in Japan for about 100 years. It came from China, but without a doubt, the Japanese have made it theirs.
The variety in flavour is incredible, and I can not think of many better comfort foods. On a hot day, you can have a cold variety, on a hot day a nice and warm one. Do you want spicy? Check. Less spicy? Check! With pesto sauce mixed in? CHECK! There is something for every occasion and every taste.
As you can see, I am certainly a Ramen enthusiast. If you want to learn a bit more about it, I would highly recommend the book Rice Noodles Fish by Matt Goulding. It is a fantastic culinary journey though Japan, and its Ramen Matrix is amazing! You can also find some of the most incredible restaurants in the Roads and Kingdoms Website – the book is also a work of the R&K team. They have a fantastic online guide to Japanese food.
Anyways, back to Ramen. I will focus on my 2 favourite types… Tonkotsu and Tsukemen.
Tonkotsu is consistently my #1 type of ramen. It is made with pork broth and has generally thinner, straight noodles. The types that I like the most are the Hakata type, and some shops serve it relatively spicy, which is good for me! In Fukuoka we went to an amazing tiny shop that served Tonkotsu with garlic and basil, so basically pesto ramen – Ramen Unari. It is delicious. My other favourite Hakata Ramen shop is Ichiran. This is quite a popular shop, as they now have tens of shops across the country. Nevertheless, to my taste and liking, this is an amazing experience I have not lived in other restaurants in Japan yet. You can see a video about the Kobe branch below.
I highly recommend going to the nearest Ichiran or other ramen shop in your vicinity, you will not be dissapointed.
Tsukemen ramen is very very different. It is a much thicker noodle that is normally covered in a little fat, and the soup comes in a separate plate. This broth is much thicker and stronger, so you dip the noodles in the broth and slurp them up. This is also amazing! If you want to try a different type of ramen, this is one of the ones that should top your list. There is an amazing shop called Rokurinsha in Tokyo station that serves the best one i have had so far.
Anyways, I will continue my ramen journey and add more info as I taste new ones! Do not miss having a delicious bowl of ramen when you go to Japan!!