THESE RAMEN SHOPS WILL TRANSPORT YOU TO JAPAN
Few meals are more comforting and satisfying than a bowl of ramen. This Japanese noodle dish is so much more than just a bowl of soup –– from the super-flavorful broth to the springy noodles to the countless toppings, a great bowl is more than the sum of its parts and a true work of art.
What is Ramen?
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup with thousands of variations. Most are tonkotsu, made by boiling pork bones, pork fat, collagen, and other umami-rich ingredients like kombu (kelp), mushrooms, and katsuobushi (tuna flakes) for hours until it’s rich and creamy, but other popular styles include salt-based shio, soy sauce-based shōyu, and miso.
The noodles are firm and springy thanks to the use of alkaline water, and traditional toppings include roast pork, boiled egg, bamboo shoots, and chili oil.
Read More: What is Ramen, Exactly?
What are the Best Ramen Flavors?
These varieties of ramen are primarily differentiated by tare, which is the primary seasoning or sauce that serves as a flavor base:
- Shio Ramen: Shio “salt” ramen is pale and yellow, much lighter than tonkotsu. It’s only seasoned with salt, and is usually made with chicken, vegetables, or fish instead of pork.
- Shōyu Ramen: Shoyu “soy sauce” ramen, is also generally chicken- or vegetable-based. As its name implies, it’s primarily flavored with soy sauce.
- Miso Ramen: Miso-based ramen can be made with either a clear soup or rich tonkotsu base, and it’s made by stirring nutty miso into ramen. It’s rich, hearty, and a major umami bomb.
Among the many other ramen styles and spinoffs, perhaps the most popular is tsukemen, in which the noodles are dipped into a bowl of deeply concentrated soup before being eaten.
The Best Ramen Places
“Absolute Best Ramen in New York”: Ivan Ramen
Called “the absolute best ramen in New York” by New York Magazine, Ivan Ramen was founded in 2012 by Ivan Orkin, who honed his craft in Japan, where he founded one of the top shops in Tokyo. As opposed to the more common tonkotsu, Ivan’s Tokyo Shio Ramen is based on a blend of rich, clear chicken broth and golden dashi. He also offers a Chicken Paitan Ramen and a vegetarian shōyu ramen.
From Japan to America: Menya Jiro
Founded in Kagoshima, Japan, in 2007, Menya Jiro has since opened three brick-and-mortar New York City restaurants and several more in Japan. Menya Jiro’s signature ramen combines pork tonkotsu and chicken broths, with soy sauce and other seasonings imported directly from Kagoshima. They offer this in both rich and light varieties, as well as spicy, veggie miso, and vegan spicy hemp miso ramens.
Legendary Yuzu-Style Ramen: AFURI
AFURI is home to what’s quite possibly the best ramen in Portland, Oregon. Its founder, Hiroto Nakamura, realized that the city’s ecosystem is surprisingly similar to that of that around Japan’s Mount Afuri, complete with pristine spring water and a bounty of local produce, so he decided to open its first location outside of Japan there. AFURI specializes in bright yuzu-style ramen, made with a small Asian citrus fruit called yuzu, and a clear chicken-based broth that’s lighter than the more common pork-based tonkotsu. They also offer a spicy version.
Cult Favorite Tan Tan Ramen: Killer Noodle Tsujita
Founded in Tokyo in 2005, Killer Noodle Tsujita is today considered by many to be the home of the best ramen in Los Angeles. Killer Noodle specializes in Tantanmen (or Tan Tan Ramen), a style inspired by Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles. Their Signature Tokyo-Style Tantanmen has a broth thickened by sesame and peanut butter, and the spicier Downtown-Style is more vinegar-forward. And for the purists, Tsujita’s classic pork-based ramen is the dish that started it all.
From a Japanese “Ramen God”: Ramen Nakamura
Chef Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura opened his first shop in Japan at age 22, and it proved to be so popular that he was hailed as a “Ramen God.” In 2016 he opened Nakamura on New York’s Lower East Side. Nakamura’s signature is his light, restorative chicken-based torigara, which is based on a recipe that’s more than a century old. He’s also become renowned for his tsukemen, or “dipping ramen,” a deep and rich sauce with noodles on the side for dunking.
Showstopping Korean Ramen: Mokbar
Mokbar is a popular Brooklyn Korean restaurant that’s become famous for its ramen infused with traditional Korean flavors. These include a completely vegan one made with:
- Fermented soybean paste
- Korean root vegetables
- And tofu;
Chicken Samgyetang ramen made with: 8-hour roasted chicken broth and ginger roasted chicken; and their signature Gochujang Pork Ramen made with gochujang-flavored pork broth and topped with pulled pork and veggies.
Discover all of the soul-warming ramens available for delivery to your door on Goldbelly!