Japanese cuisine is famous worldwide for its delicious and unique flavors.
It is considered very healthy and its preparation methods are quite different from other cuisines. Ramen plays an important role in this aspect.
Ramen is a Japanese term for noodle soup. It contains vegetables, meat and special seasonings in a broth. It is one of the most liked dishes in Japan.
And you can add a lot of delicious toppings like chashu pork or kamaboko fish cakes to your soup, and I have the 9 best toppings in this article for you.
Historically, it is originated from China but has become one of the most popular dishes in Japan. One of the major reasons for its popularity is its availability at a low price.
It is available in the form of instant cups as well so people can enjoy it on the go. Therefore, locals, as well as tourists, love it.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Ramen and its many Toppings
- 2 Why are Ramen Noodles different?
- 3 Ramen Soup Types
- 4 What’s good to include as a topping in Ramen Noodles?
- 5 9 Best Ramen Toppings
- 6 Additional ramen toppings
- 7 Is it okay to use ramen instant seasonings?
- 8 Where to find the best Ramen with different Toppings in Japan?
Ramen and its many Toppings
Ramen ranges in a wide variety of flavors. It is prepared using multiple methods.
Each method differentiates from another based on region, people’s preference, flavor choice, and season.
Each restaurant and street food vendor has its own technique, style, and procedure to prepare it. Therefore, it is available with many toppings.
Why are Ramen Noodles different?
An important ingredient namely Kansui, which is a mixture of potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate, is also added to the preparation of noodle dough.
It has a fresh, delightful, and homely taste. It is made in a variety of ways. Thick and long strands, as well as curvy and small strands, are easily available.
When opting for ramen at a restaurant, you can generally choose it in different varieties from the menu.
A customized order can be placed containing different factors like thickness, moisture level, etc.
Ramen Soup Types
Ramen is divided into multiple types based on the soup it contains.
Traditionally, the soup was made of made with Miso paste but over time, new soup bases were derived so many new categories came into being.
The most preferred soup bases are explained below:
Miso Paste Soup Base
This paste is used in a lot of Japanese dishes and is used in the making of this Japanese style broth with a very distinct flavor profile.
Shoyu Soup Base
Shio Soup Base
Shio soup is simply chicken or pork broth. It contains a little bit of salt for flavoring.
Tonkotsu Soup Base
This soup base is mostly preferred in the westernmost part of Japan.
It is made from a broth that contains dissolved pork or chicken bones. It is white colored and has a very thick and creamy look.
The same toppings in these different soups generate different flavors. So, a wide variety and choice lists are available.
What’s good to include as a topping in Ramen Noodles?
Since ramen contains a lot of toppings, it is a valid question for people to ask themselves what is beneficial for their health and what is harmful.
It all depends upon the nutritional facts and the quantity of the ingredient in a serving.
Also, a person should first know the volume of calories he/she needs. If these points are kept in mind, it is very unlikely to get unhealthy eating ramen.
9 Best Ramen Toppings
Traditional Japanese restaurants are famous for serving original and authentic ramen noodles.
However, a lot of add-ons and additives are also being created and offered by different chefs. In this article, ramen toppings are divided into traditional complete toppings and further add-ons. The details are listed below.
Moyashi is the Japanese word for beansprouts. It is the most common ramen topping that is available in every restaurant and food stall throughout the country.
The sprouts beans can be half-boiled or fully cooked. Generally, people are inclined toward half boiled because of its crunchiness.
However, both of these versions can be used. Moyashi is sweetened with an additive and is served with almost every single kind of ramen.
If you want to learn more about the moyashi and its uses, check out my post on Japanese style bean sprout dishes I’ve written for you here.
In Japan, leeks are called Negi and taste more like green onions. Sliced or shredded leeks and onions are liked as a topping and an additional chili sauce can also be added to increase the spice level.
However, people prefer chili oil in ramen soup rather than adding chili sauce with their Negi.
Negi is actually used in a lot of Japanese dishes as I write about here in this post completely about Japanese Negi.
Chashu is a popular ramen topping consisting of pork fat and other seasonings. Locals also refer it to as ‘Nibuta’ which means simmered pork.
The juicy braised pork is sliced and is served on top of noodles. Mostly, restaurants serve two large slices as one serving. However, additional Chashu can also be requested.
Tamago is a Japanese term for a rectangular omelet. Tamago topping mingles eggs to the soup base and these eggs can be enjoyed in a variety of forms ranging from hard-boiled, soft boiled, fried, marinated, omelet, and raw, etc.
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Menma contains bamboo shoots with a blend of mustard and salt. These bamboo shoots are either sun-dried or processed using the method of fermentation.
This topping, when mixed with any kind of broth, makes a yellowish colored noodle soup which is rich and very tasty.
Almost every restaurant serves it because of its popularity. Small pieces of steamed fish cake cover the noodles.
There are plenty of fish cakes available but the most commonly found are white fish cake, also quoted as Narutomaki in local terms, having a pinkish coil pattern in the middle.
Flank is a beef cut taken from a lower chest portion. It is enriched with protein and fat. Since the most percentage of Japanese people like meat, Flank is considered a good choice for ramen.
Corn is used with miso soup along with butter to generate a mouth-watering rich taste.
Seaweed is the edible marine algae that can be used in preparing food. It is considered a dish of choice by the Japanese for thousands of years. They also used it as a topping for ramen.
Additional ramen toppings
Furikake is a Japanese seasoning that contains a blend of several ingredients. The dried mixture contains fish, seaweed, monosodium glutamate,
In Japan, this powdered seasoning is sprinkled over boiled rice, fish and vegetables to give a mouth-watering savor.
Although Kimchi is a part of Korean cuisine, it is liked by many globally. Often served as a side dish with ramen, kimchi has now become an important food in Japan.
It contains several vegetables such as napa cabbage, spring onions, garlic, peppers, and radish. These vegetables are first fermented and then enjoyed with other spices.
Kimchi adds a spicy flavor to ramen soup so the people who want a hot taste mostly go for Kimchi Ramen.
It’s not really traditionally Japanese of course, I like the way the two cultures mix at times though, and I’ve written this in depth post on the differences in their cuisines if you’d like to check that out as well.
Although miso soup base can be selected instead of separate miso paste, it depends from person to person in which way they want to cherish themselves.
Miso paste can be added on top of toppings to get an authentic Japanese taste.
Usually, the Miso Paste or Shio soup base is very thin and liquid. So the people who desire thick gravy prefer butter as a topping. It enriches the ramen by adding a creamy touch.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit commonly found in Asian Countries and Islands. Yuzokosho is a seasoning powder made by drying Yuzu peels. A little salt and chili peppers are added to enhance the taste.
Not many restaurants serve it but this seasoning is used by street food vendors to give a contrasting touch to ramen.
Just like flank meat, fish is also considered as a major choice in Japan and is used both as a side and a proper meal.
Cheese is considered a source of instant ramen noodles. Since it is easily accessible and is liked by almost everyone, it is used for preparing super quick ramen.
Japanese Teriyaki is commonly known as Hibachi sauce. Generally, a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sake, mirin, and some other spices are the ingredients of hibachi which add a traditional and orthodox tone to ramen.
Is it okay to use ramen instant seasonings?
Instant ramen seasonings contain a high amount of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), and a high amount of sodium contents which are very bad for your health.
It increases the risk of heart attacks, metabolic problems, and stomach cancer.
Therefore, it is always recommended to use cooked toppings rather than using instant packets.
Where to find the best Ramen with different Toppings in Japan?
Most Japanese restaurants serve ramen but not all of them give a real Japanese experience.
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It is always suggested by locals to enjoy ramen in a specialized ramen restaurant where you can get all the desired toppings along with multiple soups.
Read everything there is to know about ramen in my previous article here. I’ve spent hours researching all the different variations so it’s really got everything you’ll ever need to know.