Most Popular Ramen Styles By Region

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Ramen By Region

The ramen style of cooking vary from region to region across Japan, evolving over the past century along geographical lines. Local variations are known by their city or prefecture of origin, many using the produce of their region and becoming nationally famous. Here are some of the main varieties.

Tokyo Style

Ramen is the archetypical shoyu-flavoured ramen. Chicken stock and shoyu is mixed with dashi to produce the unique Tokyo style ramen. It is usually served with chashu, kamaboko, half an egg, and topped with chopped leek and preserved bamboo shoots. In Yokohama, the port of Tokyo, pork is used instead of chicken for the broth resulting in the iekei sub-variation.

Champon Style

Champon is a specialty of Nagasaki, invented by a Chinese cook. It is the most Chinois of all ramen and today is served at every restaurant in Nagasaki’s Chinatown. It is the only ramen from Kyushu which does not use a tonkotsu soup. Unlike all other ramen, Champon uses special noodles that are cooked in the soup itself, served with a stir-fried mix of pork, seafood and cabbage.

Hakodate Style

Ramen is the ramen that was originally Shio flavoured, though it wasn’t invented in any particular place. Hakodate is where the tradition of making ramen soup flavoured with salt has remained unchanged though new flavours and styles were introduced. This ramen is usually made with chicken broth resulting in a golden coloured soup, but very often this ramen comes with chicken meatballs.

Hakata Style

Ramen comes from Hakata, a district in Fukuoka City, the biggest city on Kyushu where Japan’s biggest pig farming is done. This style of ramen is universally recognized as the standard version of tonkotsu. Hakata ramen is usually topped with chashu, egg, scallion, sesame seeds and pickled ginger.

Kumamoto Style

Ramen is from Kumamoto prefecture, middle of Kyushu and its style of ramen is another variation of the tonkotsu type. It is served with stewed pork belly, a generous amount of fried garlic together with the oil the garlic was fried in. Toppings include pickled ginger and julienned leek.

Kagoshima Style

Ramen is from Kagoshima, a port at the southern tip of Kyush. The soup is lighter, made from a mixture of pork tonkotsu and clear chicken broth. Kagoshima is home to Kurobuta pork, which makes their chashu all the more delicious.

Kitakata Style

Ramen is a unique shoyu flavoured soup made from pork broth mixed with dashi made from dried anchovies. It’s from the city of Kitakata in Northern Honshu which has the highest concentration of ramen shops in the world. It features flat noodles typically served with sliced pork belly, leek and fish cake.

Sapporo Style

Ramen is from the city of Sapporo in the Northern Island of Hokkaido and it is the home of miso flavoured ramen. Chicken or pork bones are used for the broth, combined with red miso paste making a rich soup, perfect for the cold weather. Hokkaido is home to the big vegetable and dairy farms of Japan with many fishing ports. Today the top natural produce of Hokkaido in the toppings (butter, corn, leek, roasted scallops) and soup (seafood) in Sapporo style ramen has become common practice.

Tokushima/Wakayama Style

Ramen is the most popular style of ramen on Shikoku Island, the smallest of the four main islands. It uses a combination tonkotsu-shoyu soup which is a deep brown colour. This ramen is served with a raw, not a cooked egg. Iit is served with baraniku, a kind of stewed pork rib. A sub-variation of the Tokushima style is Wakayama style Ramen. Wakayama is on the main island of Honshu, just across the inland sea from Tokushima which is probably why Wakayama ramen can be described as a Tokyo style ramen served in Tokushima soup.

These are, by far, the most popular ramen styles in Japan. There may be other lesser known varieties, but suffice it to say that the Japanese’s love for their ramen has produced so many variations dictated by their geography, particular animal and plant produce, their climate, terrain and sea ports.

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