Japan's Top 5 Favorite Ramen Styles
First things first: that title looks a little bit clickbaity, and in a way, it kind of is. But hear me out! It isn't! Kind of! This is based on a real survey about ramen styles and their popularity in Japan. It had a sample size of over 8,000 people — not the largest, but also not entirely dismissable. The survey was conducted between April 9 and April 23, 2018 and received 8, 268 votes from Docomo users all over Japan.
(For what it's worth, my husband is on Team Tonkotsu, which barely made it to number four on the list — a disgrace!)
So let's dissect the results a little, shall we? Given that most of the ramen styles listed aren't actual broths or soup bases — they're flavors added to the soup — it seems like an unfair competition. Tonkotsu (pork bone) is the only "true" soup base in the top five list and the others can technically have a pork bone broth as their base. Most will either use chicken stock, pork bone stock, beef bone stock, clam stock or a combination of any of those.
1. Shoyu / Soy Sauce — 2,625 Votes
Originating in Yokohama, this soy sauce-flavored broth is most popular in the Kanto region. The taste depends as you can use almost any broth with this seasoning, but generally, the soy sauce gives soup bases a salty and refreshing lift.
2. Miso / Fermented Soybean Paste — 2,150 Votes
Practically brand new, miso ramen originated in Hokkaido in the 1960s. It's rich and hearty and the perfect winter warmer — especially when you add some butter to it. Mmm, butter.
3. Shio / Salt — 1,357 Votes
The shio (salt) flavor is also rumored to originate from Hokkaido. (It's so cold up there that I'm sure they feel the need to get creative with the stuff because they eat it all the time to keep warm. <- I have no data supporting this, it's a stereotype I'm choosing to propagate.) This has a much lighter feel and is a great choice if you don't want something too heavy.
4. Tonkotsu / Pork Bone — 1,174 Votes
To some — but obviously not to the majority if this survey is to be believed — tonkotsu ramen is the ultimate ramen. The king of ramens! The ramen of ramens! Which, it may well be, but I suspect the strong smell puts quite a few people off of it. However, it's the only true broth on this list an should be respected for that. It's rich, heavy, and will probably leave you feeling full for about 3 days.
5. Tonkotsu-Shoyu / Pork Bone and Soy Sauce — 802 Votes
A combination of the thick and meaty tonkotsu (pork bone) broth and the salty shoyu (soy sauce) gives the soup a well-balanced flavor. It's the best of both worlds!
6. Other — 160 Votes
Since there's no data on what these voters mean by other it's hard to guess what their favorite was. However, it may be miso butter ramen (another Hokkaido specialty), black sesame (a personal favorite of mine), clam (a pretty popular one lately), niboshi (dried fish — this is another stinky one) or any other of the many ramen flavors in existence.
How Popular is Ramen in Japan?
In case you're wondering how popular ramen really is in Japan, another survey at Nifty in 2012 estimates 78% of Japanese people love it, with 0.4% hating the stuff, and the remaining 21.6% feel it's okay, or they're not especially keen on it. (This survey had 4,042 respondents.)
Either way, it's pretty safe to say no one is eating this on daily, unless they're hankering for a heart attack. More importantly, though, what ramen flavor is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!