Our Top 3 Tonkotsu Ramen Spots

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When you think of Japanese food, chances are you think of two things: sushi and ramen. Worldwide, these two dishes are staples of any Japanese restaurant’s menu. But, it’s not always the real deal. These are often stuffed with extras and “fusion” elements that take away from the original nature of the dish. Also, most quality ramen in the West tends to be quite expensive. A friend in the UK told me they went for ramen with some friends. It cost him £8 ($10 US dollars) for the single bowl of standard noodles and soup. That’s ¥1, 200!

Japanese-style Ramen

 

Western-style Ramen

The average price of ramen in Japan is ¥600- 800! Only £5 in English sterling and $8 in US dollars. And, it’s even cheaper and tastier than Cup Ramen!

While I’m not suggesting one move to Japan just to get cheaper ramen, a country’s food is the essence of its culture. The experience of eating at a ramen restaurant in Japan is unique. And, it’s one well worth having at some point in your life.

If you are a newcomer in Japan or are planning to come some day and enjoy the cuisine, here are some recommendations for ramen spots. These cover three different areas of Japan. Some of these are traditional-style that can only fit about 5 people on one row of stools. Others are more commercial/chain brands that you can find in your local shopping malls. The important thing that they all share though: they have Tonkotsu-style ramen. And Tonkotsu ramen tastes amazing!

Sapporo (Hokkaido)

Hokkaido is famous for its cold, snowy winters, hiking & other outdoor activities, and amazing food. From fish to meat and cheese, Hokkaido is a goldmine for good food and great eating spots.

The main city in Hokkaido is Sapporo. Located only one hour away from Chitose Airport by train, the city is bustling with culture, history, and a buzzing nightlife. And there’s delicious food shops at every corner.

It’s tucked away in Susukino, the party and night life district on the main street in central Sapporo. You may have heard of this one, as it is world-famous. It’s a place called Ramen Alley (元祖さっぽろラーメン横丁 > Ganso Ramen Yokocho to the locals).

If you come here, you have to try the Chicken broth ramen made at Mendokoro Toripan, a traditional bench style ramen restaurant. Like Tonkotsu ramen, they use a meat-based broth. Sometimes as the main broth, other times mixed with soy sauce or miso paste. Toppings include Char Siu Roasted Pork and Bamboo shoots. Simple, cheap and tasty, it’s a must if you’re in the city during the cold months of winter!

Tokyo (Kanto)

Tokyo is of course the most populous and bustling city in Japan. Not needing much of an introduction, Tokyo is famous for its sightseeing, shopping, historic landmarks and pop culture. It’s a must-visit whether you’re living in Japan or just visiting. It has something for everyone. And of course, there’s lots of nice places to eat.

Around Tokyo (and Japan), you’ll find a great chain brand of ramen restaurants called Ichiran, specializing in Tonkotsu ramen. The ramen is top notch, with a variety of flavors and their special spicy red sauce. But it’s the experience of eating here that makes it unique.

The restaurant offers a special seating option to have your own private booth, where you have your own personal server. You can create your own custom bowl, and even get a refill option. Plus, the ramen is delivered to you 15 seconds from when it’s crafted in the bowl to your table, so you can enjoy the freshest-possible ramen imaginable.

Kobe (Kansai)

Just around an hour by train from Osaka, Kobe is a beautiful port town and a melting pot of various cultures. Long ago ships from Europe, South America and Australia all convened here. Today, Kobe is one of Japan’s premier destinations.

There are some amazing sights and a wonderful mix of Japanese and Western styles. The city has traditional English houses, Edo/Victorian sail boats on the pier and even a giant Buddha statue that you can visit.

But at the heart of the town is the massive six-floor shopping mall, Kobe Harborland umie. This shopping mall is split between east and west wings with each floor offering a wide variety of shops, activity and play areas. And of course, plenty of food and drinks.

Last on our list for great ramen is a place on the second floor of the mall. and a place called SANJIN SANJIN Super Light. It offers some of the nicest, smoothest, and lightest Tonkotsu ramen in the area. Osaka is famous for it’s very rich and thick Tonkotsu ramen, but this store specializes in lighter soups. This makes it much more manageable if your stomach is too full after all the other amazing food you’ll be trying!

Conclusion

So, there we are, three recommendations for where you can try some of the best Tonkotsu ramen in Japan. We didn’t even get into Yokohama or Hakata (maybe next time!) As you settle into new life here, you’re wanting to try something new, or if the memories of Cup Noodles and Top Ramen from college still haunt you, these three spots are guaranteed to cure your ramen cravings. And they’ll help you experience even more of what Japan has to offer and experience the unique food culture of this country too.

いただきます!

IMAGE SOURCES :

Picture of Western Style Chicken Ramen 

Picture of at Mendokoro Toripan Ramen 

Picture of Ichiran Ramen 

All other photographs taken by the MUSUBI staff.

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