10 Ramen Dishes You Have to Try in Japan (And Where to Find Them)
Welcome to the land of ramen!
Ask any Pinoy tourist what their first meal in Japan would be, and most of them would probably say ramen. It's one of those quintessential Japanese experiences you simply have to have. And while tried-and-tested ramen restaurants like Ichiran or Ippudo are always top of mind, there's so much more to Japan's ramen culture than these famous joints. Start by checking out smaller ramen-ya or ramen places and ordering their specialty bowls. We list some of them below:
Menkoi Sato's Toripaitan-shoyu
Menkoi Sato's Toripaitan-shoyu (¥800) is a bowl of creamy chicken white soup with dark and light soy sauce, bonito, and mackerel. The noodles are cooked the Sapporo way--firm yet chewy. Fun fact: Their chicken white soup is a combination of three different soup stocks.
Menkoi Sato (Susukino Branch) is located at 1F, Kushitake 6.4 Bldg., Minami-6 Nishi-4, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido.
Tori-soba Ayam-YA's Potage
Savor Halal-certified chicken paitan ramen at Tori-soba Ayam-YA. Their Tori-soba Potage, in particular, makes use of chicken from Kagoshima, a prefecture in the southernmost part of Kyushu, and Japan's first Halal-certified dried bonito. The result is a rich and thick soup--added with maple, carrots, potatoes--that blends well with fine thin noodles.
Tori-soba Ayam-YA is located at 2-1-11 Mikatakonyacho, Shimogyo ward, Kyoto city, Kyoto.
MenLabo Hiro's Foie Gras Ramen
Treat yourself to a luxury ramen when you visit MenLabo Hiro. Their chicken noodle soup, which contains foie gras oil, has a rich fragrance and taste that you won't be able to resist. Aside from the savory taste or umami oozing from the chicken, the soup also comes with either pork belly, chicken breast, or duck breast toppings, and is available in both shoyu and shio flavors.
MenLabo Hiro is located at 2-51-5 Gohongi, Meguro-ku, Tokyo.
Kikuya ~garage~'s Tai to Hamaguri no Chuka Soba
A version of Kikuya Ramen, a famous ramen house in Ome, Tokyo, Kikuya ~garage~ stands out for its ramen called Tai to Hamaguri no Chuka Soba. Made from two ingredients: sea bream and kuwana clam, this ramen's soup has a delicious milky flavor that matches well with the umami taste of dried laver or seaweed and juicy pork belly chashu in the mix.
Kikuya ~garage~ is located at 902-1 Kitaharacho, Tokorozawa-shi, Saitama.
A train station isn't exactly what comes to mind when you're in need of a ramen fix, but JR's unmanned Hokkaido train station proves otherwise with its famous bowl called Two-Ramen (¥950). As the name implies, this dish only has two ingredients: white onion and chopped pork chashu. The salty chicken-based soup with a hint of spiciness comes with medium thin noodles that complement the broth's rich taste.
Fukuryuken is a popular family-owned ramen store located in the southernmost part of Fukuoka. Instead of gas, the store uses kerosene or lamp oil to fire up the stove for simmering stockpots of pork bones in varying consistencies. This results in extra smooth and flavorful ramen dishes that locals swear by.
Fukuryuken is located at 1-6-10, Shiranuhimachi, Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Ganso Akanoren Yuchan Ramen
If you love thick and savory broths, make sure to check out Ganso Akanoren Yuchan Ramen for their signature ramen dish. The kitchen spends two days preparing their profoundly thick signature broth stewed with lard, pork rinds, pork head, and other bones, so that it's well-fermented and rich in flavor, making it a good match for their thin, flat noodles.
Ganso Akanoren Yuchan Ramen is located at 3-22-27 Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka, Hakata Ward, Naka.
Ramen Misato's Shoyu Ramen
One of the best parts of ramen is its meat, and Ramen Misato knows this too well as it is popular for serving heaps of fine fatty upper part of pork. Their Shoyu Ramen (¥700) is a bowl mixed with the rich and light flavors of fatty upper pork, two slices of chashu pork, bamboo shoots, leeks, and other pot herbs. You can order with your preferred noodle hardness and taste.
Ramen Misato is located at 119 Toyama heights, 2-33 Toyama, Shinjuku ward, Tokyo.
If you're ever in Matsuzaka City, make sure you try Ramen Zenryoku's signature dish called Noukou Tsukemen or ramen with a rich-tasting dip (¥830). Its noodles are homemade and run a little thinner, and it comes with toppings such as pork chuck chashu, Japanese brassica, red onions, and fried onion. There's also chicken thigh meat hidden in the dipping sauce!
Ramen Zenryoku is located at 75-1 Miyamachi, Matsuzaka City, Mie Prefecture.
Ramen Nikko's Chicken Paitan Shio
Ramen Nikko is known for their pure chicken soup. Their Chicken Paitan Shio (¥750) is made of special salt tare sauce that draws out a pleasant, full-bodied flavor. There's a good bite and a smooth texture to the noodles that have absorbed the umami of the chicken. Pork belly and pork shoulder are used for the chashu that tops the bowl, while the kuki wakame (seaweed) adds a nice accent with its aroma and texture.
Ramen Nikko is located at 1366-2 Uocho, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture.