What’s The Most Authentic Ramen In Japan?

To simply call a dish “ ramen ” is almost an insult—that’s because it is actually one of the most diverse foods on the planet! So naturally, there’s no single “best” or “authentic” one.

Ever since the iconic dish came to Japan from China in the late 19th century, it has evolved to include countless variations of toppings, noodles, and broths. In fact, ramen has since gone such a long way that almost every prefecture in Japan now has its own unique style. It is safe to say that no two recipes are exactly the same.

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Whether in the frigid northern islands of Sapporo or in bustling city of Tokyo, there is almost always a unique ramen tied to whatever city you are visiting.

Hungry to know more? We break down the distinct ramen types that you can find in Sapporo, Hakata, Tokyo, and Hakodate.

#1: Sapporo Ramen

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With generous portions of creamy butter and flavourful miso, Sapporo ramen is one of the more indulgent styles you can try.

Located on the northernmost island of Japan, Sapporo is well known for its beer and as the birthplace of miso ramen. The Sapporo style features a rich miso soup base, thick and firm noodles, and crispy stir-fried bean sprouts. Apart from the normal toppings found in traditional recipes like chashu (stewed pork) and bamboo shoots, Sapporo ramen also usually includes local agricultural produce like corn and butter. These add exciting new dimensions of taste to the already flavourful dish.

If you’re looking for the perfect miso ramen, Sapporo is your best bet.

Where to find it:
Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho
(3 Chome Minami 5 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan)
Also known as The Original Sapporo Ramen Alley, this street is lined with some 20 shops that sell miso ramen. Every stall has its own legion of loyal followers, so feel free to take your pick. Still torn? You can start at Ajinokaryu, which has even attracted top culinary personalities like Anthony Bourdain.

#2: Hakata Ramen

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The Hakata ramen is ridiculously rich like the Sapporo ramen, and is also silky smooth to boot.

In Hakata (Fukuoka prefecture), there are Tonkotsu ramen stores at every street. With the robust pork bone broth as the soup base, this variation definitely packs a punch. The rich soup is made by boiling broken pig bones for hours until the cartilage dissolves, producing a smooth, milky broth. Hakata ramen noodles are often thin and straight, complementing the soup as it slides down your throat.

Where to find it:
Hakata Ramen Yatai Stalls
(Along Fukuoka canal in Nakasu area, Fukuoka, Japan)
Hakata ramen is best enjoyed at the Yatai stalls, which are the outdoor food stands that Fukuoka is so famous for. You can find these traditional makeshift stalls along the Fukuoka Canal, but do note that they are only open in the evening.

#3: Tokyo Ramen

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Simple yet sophisticated, the Tokyo shoyu ramen is probably the first style that comes to mind when you think of the dish.

Being a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population, there is no doubt that Tokyo offers ramen in every style you can think of. However, for the true taste of Japan’s capital city, you need to go back to basics and order the simplest variation of the iconic dish: Shoyu ramen.

Perhaps the most traditional recipe, the shoyu ramen is something foodies from all over the world are all familiar with. It has shoyu-seasoned pork and/or chicken stock as the soup base. Complementing this mild broth are the springy noodles of moderate thickness, paired with the usual meat and garnishing.

Where to find it:
Harukiya, Ogikubo Honten
(1-4-6 Kamiogi, Suginami 167-0043, Tokyo Prefecture)
Harukiya has been in business for over 60 years, so you can be sure that you’ll be getting one of the best “old style” ramen here. We lapped up all the broth, and couldn’t get enough of the noodles (which is freshly made every morning) so we ordered an extra portion at ¥200.

#4: Hakodate Ramen

Not to be confused with Shoyu ramen (which is made from soy sauce), Shio soup bases are mainly seasoned with salt.

Hakodate’s claim to fame is their signature salt-seasoned ramen, or Shio ramen. Here at the port city of Hakodate, ramen is commonly seasoned with local ingredients like sea salt, Kombu (dried kelp) and Niboshi (dried sardines). These ingredients are infused into the soup and then reduced, giving dish its characteristically clear salted broth. Common toppings are paired with curly noodles that are traditionally boiled till soft, making Hakodate ramen light and easy on the palate.

Where to find it:
Seiryu ken Ramen and Chinese Restaurant
(7-3 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido)
Seiryu is a household name in Hokkaido, so there is almost always a long queue, but it will be worth it. Tingle your umami taste buds with their signature Shio ramen. To complete your meal, be sure to pair your noodles with the gyoza and shu mai side dishes.

 

Bonus tip!
To go one step further and devour the dish like a true blue Japanese, do the following: Slurp your noodles loudly, pay the chef compliments, and do not be afraid to ask for kaedama, which is a second serving of noodles so not a single drop of delicious soup goes to waste.

 

Check out 3 Specialty Dishes To Try While In Kyoto, Japan, Must-Go Cafes In Tokyo To Put On Your Radar, and The Best Time To Scoot Off To Japan.


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