Local ramen have evolved to reflect the tastes of residents in various regions around the country. Here are eight local ramen including some that are famous nationwide and some that are a well-kept secret! If you are a ramen lover, be sure to go out and try them.
1. Sapporo Ramen
This is the local ramen from Sapporo in Hokkaido. Although Sapporo ramen is commonly thought to be miso ramen, many Sapporo ramen shops offer three flavors: soy sauce, miso, and salt. The main characteristics of Sapporo ramen are that the soup is made of stock, such as of pork bone, the noodles are curly, and fat, such as lard, is added to the soup to prevent the dish from getting cold. In addition to standard toppings such as char siu pork, menma bamboo shoots, and negi scallions, it is often served with grilled vegetables such as onions, cabbage and bean sprouts. The super-popular Sapporo Junren, which serves ramen with a rich miso soup that is addictive, is recommended.
2. Goemon Ramen
This is a local ramen from Tono in Iwate, well known to aficionados. It is distinguished by its thin noodles, light soup made from chicken stock, and a topping of fried pork and vegetables flavored with doubanjiang broad bean chili paste. It is a unique ramen with an outstanding flavor made by the amalgamation of its spicy flavors and light soup. If you have the chance, you will want to visit the restaurant Kiraku, which is said to have originated the dish.
3. Kitakata Ramen
This is a local ramen from Kitakata in Fukushima. It is said that many locals eat ramen in the morning. It is made with a pork bone stock soup (some restaurants add seafood to the stock) flavored with soy sauce, and is characterized by a light flavor. There are variations, such as salt flavor and miso flavor, depending on the restaurant. The noodles are thick and curly with a chewy texture and a slippery feel when it goes down the throat. It is a substantial dish with toppings including chopped negi scallions, char siu pork, and menma bamboo shoots. The ramen at the original Bannai Shokudo is famous and said to be unforgettable.
4. Toyama Black Ramen
This is a local ramen from Toyama with a salty and spicy flavor that is addictive. It is high in soy sauce because it is expected to be eaten with rice, and is characterized by a black soup from which it derives its name. A large amount of coarsely ground black pepper is added before serving, augmenting the kick in the flavor. The noodles tend to be thick and firm and the toppings are the standard char siu pork, menma bamboo shoots, etc. Why not try it first at Nishicho Taiki, which is right near JR Toyama Station?
5. Kyoto Ramen
This is a local ramen served primarily in Kyoto. There is a variety of different types of Kyoto ramen, but one key characteristic is the rich soup with deep flavors. It is usually seasoned with soy sauce, and many restaurants scatter fat from the back of pork on the soup. The noodles are soft and straight. A common topping is Kyoto kujo-green onion. Ramen Kairikiya, known for its tasty kujo-green onions, is recommended.
6. Wakayama Ramen
This is a local ramen that is served in specialty restaurants and casual eateries primarily in the northern part of Wakayama. The soups are generally made with pork bone and soy sauce and can be divided roughly into those with rich pork bone flavors, and those with light soy sauce flavors. The noodles are thin, straight noodles, and the toppings include char siu pork, green spring onions, and menma bamboo shoots. If you are in the area, why not drop in at Ide Shoten, which ignited the popularity of this ramen?
7. Onomichi Ramen
This is a local ramen from the Bingo area of Hiroshima centered in Onomichi. The standard is a simple soup made with a stock of chicken bones and small fish from the Seto Inland Sea and flavored with soy sauce. The soup itself is light but has umami flavors, and is supplemented with pork back fat to add richness. Many of the restaurants serve either straight noodles of medium thickness or flat noodles, and the toppings include green spring onions, char siu pork and menma bamboo shoots. Try it at Shukaen, a restaurant that is representative of Onomichi ramen.
8. Hakata Ramen
This is a local ramen made primarily in Fukuoka. The soup is made from pork bones and has a milky-white color, but there is a wide range of richness. The noodles are usually very thin and not very chewy so they can soak up the soup. With Hakata ramen, guests can choose the firmness of the noodles, and also can order extra noodles by asking for "kaedama". The toppings tend to be simple, with just negi scallion, or negi scallions and chashu pork, but you can add your own flavors with condiments such as red ginger, takana pickled mustard leaf and sesame. Ippudo, which is a chain with branches around the country, is recommended as a place that you can easily stop by.
If you see any of these local ramen while traveling, be sure to give them a try!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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