The 5 Types of Ramen You Should Know (2024)

At the end of the day, a bowl of ramen is simply a bowl of ramen: soup, ramen noodles, some meat and maybe an egg. But what started out as a knockoff Chinese dish in Japan has developed into a multilayered, ever-changing cuisine of its own in Japan. There’s a ramen museum, for Chrissake.

Lucky for New Yorkers, that hype — and the ever-expanding menus — is all over New York, from Totto Ramen to Ivan Ramen, and many more ramen shops throughout the city.

“There are five basic elements to ramen: noodles, tare, broth, topping and aroma oil,” Sun Noodle’s executive chef Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura says. “For a very long time people in Japan were very poor, so they couldn’t eat regular proteins or meat. They used waste ingredients like bones to make the broth, and then they made ramen.”

Nowadays, hours are spent to make the soup. The rest of the ingredients are equally revered. “Tare, the liquid seasoning, works for saltiness and sweetness,” Nakamura says, “And the oil makes more aroma for the nose.” Toppings can range from traditional (pork chasu) to almost fusion (avocado), and the noodles? Well, Sun Noodle, which produces the ramen noodles for Totto, Ivan and more, is expert at combining wheat flour, salt, water and kansui, kansui being the key ingredient to chewy ramen noodles with extra bite. So your bowl of ramen? Could be literally any combination of the factors above.

We chatted with Sun Noodle’s president Kenshiro Uki and chef Nakamura to decipher which five types of ramen you should know.

1. Shoyu

Shoyu, which is one of the simplest ramens when it comes to ingredients, was the first ramen in Japan, Nakamura says. “It’s originally Tokyo style, which has a lot of yakitori places,” he says. “So they had a lot of chicken bones, which they used to make the soup.” The broth is moderately thick, which means the noodles are also moderately thick; and while shio ramen tends to just be salted broth, shoyu gets an extra addition of soy sauce.

2. Tonkotsu

Tonkotsu is a southern-style ramen, with a broth made with a local ingredient: pork. “First they made clear pork broth, but then some guy made a mistake and he fell asleep, and overnight the bone changed the broth into a very creamy and white soup,” Nakamura says. “He thought it was a mistake, but he used it, and now people only know of tonkotsu ramen as white.” Sometimes, though, some shops will still make the old-style clear broth.

Surprisingly enough, the tonkotsu broth is considered lighter than other soups. “Tonkotsu broth has less fat, and so it requires a thinner noodle because then the broth will cover more surface area,” Nakamura says. Of course, strategy plays into it. Noodles tend to lose texture as they sit in soup, so purveyors will serve less noodles in order to keep the noodle’s texture consistent throughout an entire bowl; “When noodles are thinner, you can also order more noodles,” Uki says. “In northern Japan, where portions are a bit bigger, noodles will have a bit more water in the dough so they will keep [their] texture throughout a meal.”

3. Miso ramen

Miso ramen hails from the most northern island of Japan: Hokkaido. Also called Sapporo ramen, the dish is very thick, very salty and served piping hot. “Every dish is like that,” Nakamura says. The broth is usually made from pork, but it can also be mixed with chicken, according to Nakamura. And since the fat content is the highest, not to mention the temperature servings, the noodles are not only thicker, but also aged. “The more water you put in a dough, the more aged it will be, so it will be chewier,” Uki says. This helps with texture, but also with longevity. “When a miso ramen is piping hot, the noodles have to be tighter because in miso soup, the noodles almost continue cooking in the bowl,” Nakamura says.

4. Tsukemen

One of the newer styles of ramen, developed in the ‘50s in Tokyo, tsukemen is much like soba, served with the noodles separately. “With dipping ramen, people make the richest soup, so you have to put the two separately to eat it like soba,” Nakamura says. And just like soba sauce, the soup is incredibly salty. “Only after the noodles are eaten do they put a little broth to drink.”

Noodle wise, the ramen is actually almost udon-like in size, since the broth is almost like sauce. For scale, tsukemen sauce is typically five to 10 times thicker than shoyu.

5. Mazemen

The thickest style out there, mazemen is, in essence, Japanese meets Italian. “It’s totally like pasta,” Nakamura says. Typically, broth is cut out of the picture; the sauce is simply made of tare (liquid seasoning) and aroma oil, plus toppings. And just like tsukemen, the noodles are heavier. “A thin noodle will get too soggy, and the taste will be too heavy,” Nakamura says. As for the toppings? You might find the more innovative creations in this category—think Ivan Ramen’s chili eggplant mazemen.

Jessica Chou

Jessica is a multimedia journalist living in New York City, covering lifestyle and culture.

Previous ArticleThere Is Such a Thing As a Weekly $12 Box of Greenmarket Ingredients
Next ArticleMeet Pop Sauce, the Condiment Inspired by One Harlemite's Late-Night Meals
The 5 Types of Ramen You Should Know (2024)


The 5 Types of Ramen You Should Know? ›

Usually varieties of ramen are differentiated by the type of broth and tare used. There are five components to a bowl of ramen: tare, aroma oil, broth, noodles and toppings.

What are the 5 essentials of ramen? ›

What are the 5 components of ramen?
  • Soup. The main components of a finished ramen broth are soup, tare (sauce), and fats and oils. ...
  • Tare (sauce) Tare is the ramen soup seasoning. ...
  • Noodles. ...
  • Oils and fats. ...
  • Toppings. ...
  • Skill (Bonus)
Aug 17, 2022

What are the 5 aspects of ramen? ›

Usually varieties of ramen are differentiated by the type of broth and tare used. There are five components to a bowl of ramen: tare, aroma oil, broth, noodles and toppings.

What are the 4 types of ramen? ›

You often see ramen categorized into four classes: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (fermented bean paste), and tonkotsu (pork), which doesn't make particular sense, as the first three are flavorings, while the fourth is the broth base.

What is the most famous type of ramen? ›

1. Shoyu. Shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce and this lighter-style ramen — which can appear clear-brown or darker and cloudy — is flavored with exactly that. It's the single most commonly found type of ramen and was invented in 1910 at a ramen shop named Rairaiken in Tokyo's Asakusa neighborhood.

What are the 5 pillars of ramen? ›

“There are five basic elements to ramen: noodles, tare, broth, topping and aroma oil,” Sun Noodle's executive chef Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura says. “For a very long time people in Japan were very poor, so they couldn't eat regular proteins or meat.

Is ramen a junk food? ›

Ramen noodles are a carbohydrate-rich, comforting, budget-friendly and widely available dish that can be enjoyed quickly whenever you'd like. While instant ramen is not bad for you, it isn't recommended as a single food daily or multiple times per day on its own due to its high-sodium flavoring packet or broth.

Is ramen Korean or Japanese? ›

Ramen (Japanese) is a kind of cuisine of Japan, and ramyeon (Korean ramen) is a kind of instant cooking food in South Korea, which originated from ramen.

What is the secret of ramen? ›

Noodle's Secret ~ Kansui lye water. Japanese lye water called kansui is an indispensable auxiliary ingredient for ramen noodles, and it is no exaggeration to say that it produces the exquisite balance between ramen noodles unique koshi firmness and soup flavour.

What is the rarest type of ramen? ›

I tried Japan's rarest ramen flavor. It's called the Ice Ramen, and its ingredients are so insane. that only brave people are able to eat it, because you can only get it at the Ice Ramen restaurant, which is completely made of ice. Yes, the whole restaurant is actually made of ice.

What is the most difficult ramen? ›

While there are many good, humble bowls of shio out there, many ramen chefs see this as the most difficult type of ramen to make, since they can't rely on incredibly flavorful miso and soy sauce to provide the dimension their broth might otherwise lack.

What is red ramen? ›

Red Miso Rice Ramen Noodle Soup Cup is a mouth-watering blend of red miso, chilies, ginger and wakame seaweed with medium heat. Our delicious ramen soup cups are a modern twist on the traditional Asian cup of noodles, but with whole grain never-fried organic brown rice noodles.

What is the number 1 ramen in Japan? ›

1 Ramen (Tsukemen) Tomita's tsukemen is everything you'd expect it to be. It's the pinnacle of tonkotsu gyokai (pork and fish tsukemen).

What ramen do Japanese eat? ›

Broadly speaking, there are four main ramen types. Three of the types refer to seasonings—miso ramen, shio ramen (salt) and shoyu ramen (soy sauce)—while the fourth is tonkotsu, or pork bone stock. Seasonings and stock bases, such as chicken, fish and seafood, are mixed and matched from area to area and shop to shop.

How many ramen flavors are there? ›

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Variety mix - 11 Flavors, Pack of 22-3 Ounce each Flavor -

What are the 4 components that make up a traditional ramen bowl? ›

Unless you learn a little about ramen, you can't gloat about being a true fan. Anyway, a bowl of ramen has four main components, the noodles, broth, tare and toppings.

What is the most important ingredient in ramen? ›

The most important thing to know about making ramen noodles is that they are alkali noodles, not egg noodles. So, really the most important ingredient to have on hand is sodium carbonate (Na2CO3).

What is the most important part of ramen? ›

The broth is the most important part of the ramen — it's where most of the flavor comes from. Typically, ramen broth is a combination of pork or chicken stock and dashi. Dashi is a simple Japanese soup stock containing kombu and bonito flakes.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Reed Wilderman

Last Updated:

Views: 5867

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Reed Wilderman

Birthday: 1992-06-14

Address: 998 Estell Village, Lake Oscarberg, SD 48713-6877

Phone: +21813267449721

Job: Technology Engineer

Hobby: Swimming, Do it yourself, Beekeeping, Lapidary, Cosplaying, Hiking, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Reed Wilderman, I am a faithful, bright, lucky, adventurous, lively, rich, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.