A bowl of Nagoya's Taiwan Ramen with a red soup

Regional Ramen Styles You Have to Try

Ramen may have started in China, but since its arrival in Japan, it has changed to fit the Japanese palate and has taken on so many different flavors. From the main four types of ramen (salt, soy sauce, miso and pork bone), plenty of regional ramen styles have popped up, big and small. With so many out there, we can’t talk about all of them, but we have a list of delicious, must-try ramen styles.

We took the liberty of organizing them from North to South, so if you ever decide to do a ramen tour, you can just follow our guide from top to bottom.

Asahikawa Ramen

 A bowl of Asahikawa Ramen with small slices of char siu on top 
Hokkaido ramen really is built different, with several ramen styles on the island. Image via Instagram (@ishigaki555)

A Hokkaido creation, Asahikawa style is a shoyu (soy sauce) base ramen that is set apart by the fact that it is pretty oily. In fact, you can find a layer of oil on top that adds flavor to the soup while also keeping it warm even in cold winters. It also uses thin, wavy noodles that are a little harder than other regional ramen styles.

Sapporo Miso

A bowl of Sapporo ramen sits next to a bowl of rice and some beer 
Fun fact: Sapporo ramen is known as one of the big 3 regional ramen flavors alongside Kitatkata ramen and Hakata ramen. Image via Instagram (@ken.f_reach_for_the_stars)

Sapporo ramen, or Sapporo Miso ramen, is a fun Hokkaido ramen style that combines the miso (fermented soy bean paste) base with pork bone broth for a meaty, slightly nutty taste. It’s a true local specialty, often being topped with local products like corn or Hokkaido butter.

Hakodate Ramen

A bowl of Hakodate ramen with plenty of green onion 
Hakodate ramen is perfect for anyone looking for a lighter ramen experience. Image via Instagram (@find.my.ramen)

Finishing the Hokkaido ramen trifecta, Hakodate ramen is a shio (salt) ramen style. In particular, this salt-based soup is clear, allowing you to see the thin, straight noodles swimming in the delicious broth. It’s also the least oily or fatty of the three Hokkaido styles, but it’s still perfect for winter.

Kitakata Ramen

A bowl of Kitakata ramen next to a bowl of char siu rice
Kitakata actually has a unique culture with many ramen shops opening in the early morning for breakfast. Image via Instagram (@takepy22

Hailing from Fukushima, this is thought of as one of the big three regional ramen styles alongside Sapporo and Hakata ramen. This style is a shoyu base, but depending on the shop, it may have either a pork or dried sardine broth or both. It also known for its thick, wavy original noodles called Hirauchi Jukusei Takasuimen.

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Yokohama Iekei

A bowl of Yokohama Iekei ramen topped with char siu, spinach and seaweed 
Yokohama Iekei is one of my personal favorites, but don't tell the other ramens. They might get jealous. Image via Instagram (@ikedatom)

Yokohama Iekei is an amazingly delicious hybrid of the Tokyo Chicken Shoyu and Hakata Tonkotsu flavors of ramen. Created in Yokohama by a former truck driver turned ramen chef, this is a truly a ramen for the everyday person and is well-loved. This style has spread all across the country thanks to its delicious flavor combination.

Tsubame Sanjo Ramen

A bowl of Tsubame Sanjo ramen with pork fat floating on the soup 
Tsubame Sanjo contains pork backfat creating the cloudy soup. However, the fat is fine and very smooth. Image via Instagram (@find.my.ramen)

Hailing from Tsubame City and Sanjo City Niigata, Tsubame Sanjo ramen is perfect for the cold. The soup has a strong shoyu taste and a thick layer of pork backfat on top. The fat seals in the heat of the piping hot ramen in the cold winter. If you like fatty ramen, this ramen is a great and flavorful option.

Nagoya ‘Taiwan’ Ramen

A bowl of Taiwan ramen from Nagoya with spicy red beef and green onions on top 
This particular ramen type is known for its kick, which is surprising for Japanese cuisine. Image via Instagram (@hachikaoru)

Looking at the name ‘Taiwan ramen’, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s from Taiwan, but this dish was actually made in Nagoya. Also known as ‘Nagoya ramen’ in Taiwan, this regional ramen style uses a shoyu and chicken broth and thicker ramen noodles. The dish is topped with ground pork, chives, green onions and more that are combined with spicy red peppers and fried. It’s spicy but made to fit the Japanese palate, so it burns so good.

Wakayama Ramen

A bowl of Wakayama ramen with a bowl of rice and some pickles 
Wakayama ramen is one of the newer kids on the block in terms of popularity. Image via Instagram (@ramendaisuki_no.1)

Becoming popular after a competitor in a TV ramen competition represented Wakayama and won the competition, this dish includes straight noodles in one of two types of soup. One is a clearer soy sauce broth while the other is a tonkotsu and soy sauce base. The perfect topping on this delicious soup is roasted pork or pork ribs.

Tottori Beef Bone Ramen

A bowl of Tottori Beef ramen with beef slices on top 
Tottori's gyukatsu ramen is popular with Japanese people, but it's rare to see it outside of Tottori. Image via Instagram (@isato_urawa)

Tottori actually has a unique style of Japanese ramen outside of the four main types of ramen. This ramen uses a beef bone broth called gyukotsu, with different shops having different variations like beef broth with pork bone or dashi incorporated. With or without these additions, Tottori ramen has a sweetness and a beefy aroma.

Onomichi Ramen

A pair of chopsticks holds noodles from a bowl of Onomichi ramen with bits of pork fat 
Onomichi style also often contains backfat that adds flavor to its soy sauce base. Image via Instagram (@rincorinco)

Onomichi is a Hiroshima ramen style appearing in the 1940s and is said to be a healthier ramen option. It’s a soy sauce base that contains both pork back fat full of good cholesterol and small fish from the Seto Inland Sea with plenty of calcium. Toppings vary from shop to shop, but usually include chashu, bamboo and spring onions. This soup manages to be gentler than other types while still having a complex, deep flavor.

Tokushima Ramen

A bowl of Tokushima ramen with an egg next to a bowl meat, onion and egg 
The raw egg adds a perfect bit of creaminess to this tasty ramen. Image via Instagram (@sakuuusakuuu)

Tokushima Ramen, gaining national popularity after being featured in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, has two unique features. First is the toppings, with pork ribs and raw egg adorning the ramen as toppings.

Second is the variety, with three different types or colors available. White is a tonkotsu and light shoyu base, yellow is made with soy sauce and vegetable or chicken broth, and brown uses a tonkotsu and dark soy sauce broth. In other words, there are three ways to enjoy this delicious ramen.

Hakata Ramen

A bowl of ramen from Ippudo with a dollop of red sauce 
As you may have seen in our other blogs, Ippudo is actually a Hakata native brand! Image via Instagram (@saporin_0109)

Hakata Ramen is one of the most famous ramen variations in the world thanks to brands like Ippudo and Ichiran. Hakata style is a tonkotsu type where the pork bones are cooked for a long time on high heat creating a rich and creamy soup. Thin noodles are used to speed up the cooking time and the dish is topped with chashu (char siu) pork, green onions, and other simple toppings. The best part is that you can eat so much of it with the easy ‘kaedama’ (replacement noodle) system.

Kurume Ramen

A bowl of creamy Kurume ramen with plenty of green onion and a side of rice 
The average person may not see a difference between Hakata and Kurume ramen, but a pro knows that it's richer and creamier. Image via Instagram (@kinako124spider)

Kurume ramen is actually thought to be the origin of tonkotsu and Hakata ramen because of its use of pork bones as the base. However, Kurume ramen tends to be richer than Hakata style, but can get added richness at some shops with the use of pigs’ feet and even pig’s head for the broth.

Nagasaki Champon

A bowl of Nagasaki Champon with a side of gyoza dumplings 
If this entry looks a bit different to you, it's because Nagasaki Champon is not your usual bowl of ramen. Image via Instagram (@yukinecopeterpan)

Champon, or chanpon, is a regional dish that goes all the way back to the early 1900s. This ramen dish actually uses a different cooking method to other styles, with many ingredients all in one pot.

First, the toppings are fried and then a hybrid chicken and tonkotsu broth is added. Then, the noodles are cooked in the mixture. Last, toppings like carrot, bamboo, scallions and fish cakes are added to create a creamy, filling bowl of noodles.

Kagoshima Ramen

A bowl of Kagoshima ramen with a pork and green onion topping 
What is it about the Kyushu region and ramen? They just put out banger after banger. Image via Instagram (@ryo2715_k)

Kagoshima ramen comes from the same region as Kurume and Hakata ramen but is quite different to its Kyushu cousins. While still a tonkotsu base ramen, it adds chicken stock and dried sardines to its broth for a unique flavor. It also switches things up with thicker noodles and pickled daikon radish.

Okinawa Soba

A bowl of Okinawa soba with egg, pork and more on top 
Okinawa has a unique food culture to Japan and Okinawan soba is no different! Image via Instagram (@takiguruman.kyoto)

We haven’t touched on soba yet on our blog, but soba refers to thin buckwheat noodles that are very popular in Japan. Okinawa soba is not that.

The name says soba, but the noodles are thicker and made of wheat, similar to udon noodles. However, the broth is a popular tonkotsu and bonito base and is usually topped with pork ribs simmered in sugar and soy sauce, red ginger, Japanese fish cake and scallions. Some shops and areas will even top it with bone-in ribs or pig’s feet for a uniquely Okinawan feel.

That’s our list! Did we miss any regional ramen styles that you love? Are there any styles you want to try? Let us know in the comments!

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