November 30, 2023

Where can I find the best ramen in Japan?

Indulging in authentic Japanese ramen is an absolute must for any food enthusiast exploring the culinary wonders of Japan. Renowned worldwide for its rich and flavorful broth paired with perfectly textured noodles, ramen holds a special place in Japanese gastronomy. 

From classic Shoyu (soy sauce) and Miso to the hearty Tonkotsu (pork bone) broths, Japan's ramen scene caters to every palate, making it an essential experience for anyone eager to savor the true essence of Japanese cuisine.

Japan's diverse culinary landscape ensures there's a bowl of ramen to suit every taste. Venture beyond the well-known districts and explore local neighborhoods to stumble upon hidden gems that serve up unforgettable bowls of steaming ramen goodness. 

So, if you're wondering where to find the best ramen in Japan, rest assured that the answer lies in the vibrant streets and corners of its cities, promising a delightful and savory adventure for your taste buds.

Best types of Ramen in Japan

Japan boasts a diverse and delicious array of ramen dishes, each with its unique flavors, broths, and toppings. Here are some of the best and most iconic ramen varieties you should try when in Japan:

  • Shoyu Ramen (Soy Sauce Ramen): A classic and widely enjoyed ramen, Shoyu Ramen features a clear, brown broth flavored with soy sauce. It often comes with chashu (braised pork belly), green onions, nori (seaweed), and a seasoned boiled egg.

  • Miso Ramen: Originating from Hokkaido, Miso Ramen is characterized by its rich and hearty broth made from fermented soybean paste. This ramen is often accompanied by sweetcorn, butter, and various vegetables, creating a robust and savory flavor profile.

  • Tonkotsu Ramen: Hailing from Kyushu, Tonkotsu Ramen is known for its creamy, pork bone broth. It's a hearty and flavorful option, typically topped with slices of chashu, green onions, and sometimes black garlic oil for an extra kick.

  • Shio Ramen (Salt Ramen): Shio Ramen features a clear, light broth seasoned with salt, creating a delicate and refreshing flavor. Toppings may include seafood, vegetables, and thinly sliced pork.

  • Tsukemen: In this style, the noodles and broth are served separately. The noodles are thicker and firmer and meant to be dipped into a concentrated broth before each bite. The dipping broth is often intensely flavored for a satisfying experience.

  • Hokkaido Ramen: Unique to the northern island of Hokkaido, this ramen variety often features a miso-based broth, and it includes ingredients like sweetcorn, butter, and local seafood to showcase the region's culinary specialties.

  • Vegetarian Ramen: For those preferring a meat-free option, many places offer vegetarian ramen with a flavorful vegetable or mushroom-based broth, tofu, and an assortment of fresh vegetables.

These are just a few examples, and the world of ramen in Japan is incredibly diverse. Regional variations, seasonal specialties, and creative fusions make exploring ramen in Japan a culinary adventure.

Best Ramen in Japan

Finding the best ramen in Japan is an exciting adventure, as the country is dotted with outstanding ramen shops offering unique flavors and styles. Here are some cities and areas known for exceptional ramen experiences:

  • Tokyo: The capital city is a ramen paradise with countless shops offering diverse styles. Head to areas like Ikebukuro, Shibuya, or Shinjuku, and explore the ramen alleys. The famous "Ramen Street" in Tokyo Station or "Golden Gai" in Shinjuku or Ichiran ramen in Tokyo. These are some of the best restaurants in Tokyo where you can find ramen. 

  • Osaka: Known for its street food culture, Osaka offers a variety of ramen options. Visit districts like Dotonbori or Namba, where you'll find bustling streets lined with ramen shops. If you are looking for the best ramen in Osaka, you can visit these districts. 

  • Sapporo (Hokkaido): Hokkaido is famous for its rich miso ramen, and Sapporo, the capital, is the place to savor this specialty. The Susukino district is particularly renowned for its vibrant ramen scene.

  • Kyoto: Despite being known for traditional Japanese cuisine, Kyoto has its share of excellent ramen shops. Gion and Kawaramachi are areas where you can discover hidden gems.

  • Fukuoka: Located in Kyushu, Fukuoka is the birthplace of Tonkotsu Ramen. Visit the Hakata district, known for its ramen stalls and Yatai (street food stalls) for an authentic experience.

  • Hakodate (Hokkaido): Another city in Hokkaido, Hakodate is celebrated for its unique salt-based ramen. Try this variation if you find yourself in the area.

  • Yokohama: The Ramen Museum in Yokohama is a fascinating destination, showcasing ramen from different regions across Japan. It's a great place to sample a variety of styles in one location.

When searching for the best ramen, don't hesitate to explore local neighborhoods, ask locals for recommendations, and be open to trying different regional specialties. Some of the best ramen shops may be hidden gems off the beaten path. Enjoy your ramen adventure in Japan!