By now, you probably already know the four most popular ramen in the Japanese ramen word are: shio ramen, tonkotsu ramen, miso ramen and shoyu ramen.
So, out of the 4, which one is the “newest"?
A. Shio (Salt) Ramen
B. Tonkotsu Ramen
C. Miso Ramen
D. Shoyu Ramen
The answer is ...
One of the most frequent questions I get is “what is miso ramen?”, so today, I want to talk a little bit about it.
The history of ramen in Japan started in the end of the 19th century. The Chinatowns in Yokohama and Kobe introduced this popular dish.
However, creation of the miso ramen is actually quite recent.
It was created by Morito Omori, who was an owner of a restaurant in Sapporo, Hokkaido called Ajino Sanpei.
Omori-san read a magazine called Reader's Digest. In the article the president of a Swiss food company said:
"Miso is really useful. Japanese people should use miso more often in their cuisines”
Omori-san was impressed at how miso, a Japanese traditional seasoning, was perceived so favourably overseas and started thinking up recipes which he could incorporate miso.
He obtained different types of miso all around Japan, tested recipes, and asked his customers for opinions.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans, rice (or wheat with salt) and koji, which is an organism that helps the soybeans ferment. The completed end-product of miso is usually in a paste form, which looks a little bit like peanut butter.
Characteristics of miso ramen are...
Flavor: Rich and thick
Broth: Vegetable and pork-bone
Toppings: Menma, chashu, fried vegetables (ex. beansprout, cabbage), corn bits, and butter.
(If pork and vegetable are fried together, there is no chashu)
Noodle Texture: Wavy noodles
I sometimes miss and crave my mom's miso ramen which we usually ate together for lunch on Sundays. Miso ramen was a symbol of day off from school, for me.
The (approximate) years these other ramen favourites were created goes something like this (from oldest to newest)...
Shio Ramen: 1884
Shoyu Ramen: 1910
Tonkotsu Ramen: 1947
Miso Ramen: 1955
Keanu Reeves also likes to eat ramen. When he goes to Japan, he always goes to his favorite ramen restaurants and his favourite ramen is:
You can find miso ramen on the menus of so many ramen restaurants.
However, even though you can easily find restaurants that specialize in only one kind of ramen like shoyu ramen or tonkotsu ramen, it is extremely difficult to find a miso ramen exclusive restaurant in Tokyo.
On the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2018 edition, there is only 1 miso ramen exclusive restaurant out of 26 ramen restaurants!
Why aren’t people taking miso ramen seriously?
The reason is that there is a public conception that miso ramen is food for the winter only.
As I’ve mentioned before, miso ramen came from Hokaido which is the north (and coldest) part of Japan. Miso ramen’s thick and hearty broth is perfect for the cold winters there.
The richness of miso keeps the broth hot, and it warms the body up and you feel instant bliss while eating a piping hot bowl of miso ramen in the harsh cold winter...
But miso ramen is also good for different seasons!
There are also many other benefits of eating miso ramen...
1. Miso is a fermented food, so it improves intestinal health and helps your immune system.
2. The salt content in miso doesn't raise your blood pressure as much as other salty food would.
3. Miso ramen is often topped with many different types of vegetables. You can take in a lot of vegetables compared to other kinds of ramen.
Miso is pretty good for overall health as well as exceptionally delicious! I make miso soup almost everyday since it is healthy and my wife likes having it with dinner!
Now that you have a better understanding of miso ramen, let's talk about the different types of miso ramen out there.
Which type of miso ramen should you choose???
Sapporo Ramen (札幌ラーメン)
Sapporo ramen is characterized by wavy and thick noodles paired with a thick broth and a little bit of ginger and garlic flavor.
The soup is made of pork bone. Topping are green onion, bean sprout, menma, and chashu or ground pork.
Don’t know what some of these toppings are?
Check out our list of 30+ common Japanese ramen topping ingredients!
A specialty of Sapporo ramen is that you a lot of restaurants allow customers to customize their ramen toppings, for example, corn, butter, crab, and scallops.
Jigoku Ramen (地獄ラーメン)
Jigoku ramen is a spicy ramen. Karamiso (hot pepper miso) is used in making the ramen. There is a hot pepper miso container on the table, so customers can adjust the spiciness to their liking. At some restaurants, hot pepper is also used in the production of the noodles.
Sendai Ramen (仙台ラーメン)
Miso is a specialty of Sendai since the period of Masamune Date, the famous clan leader and founder of modern-day Sendai. Pork bone and chicken broth is used to make this ramen. You taste the creamy miso broth on its own first and then you can melt Karamiso (served on a spoon) and adjust the spiciness.
Akayu Ramen (赤湯ラーメン)
The Akayu ramen is created at a restaurant called Ryushanghai. When it first opened, the restaurant was not popular, so the owner brought the leftover soup back home and made miso soup out of it. One day, the store owner’s son put the noodles into his miso soup and said, "Dad, it is yummy!" and the owner started creating this recipe. Karamiso is also used when eating this ramen. Since it is spicy, you shouldn't mix all the karamiso at once.
Nigata Nouko Miso Ramen (新潟濃厚味噌ラーメン)
This region’s miso ramen specialty features very thick noodles in a thick, rich soup. Pork bone broth and red miso makes this soup so creamy and rich. Customers can adjust the thickness of their soup by thinning it out with a bowl of broth (which is served up separately). There are a lot of vegetables and ground pork as toppings to these noodles. The noodles are also very thick (almost like udon), so customers can be really full after eating it.
Kagoshima Ramen (鹿児島ラーメン)
Kagoshima city is the only place that has a miso ramen culture in Kyushu, as Kyushu is known as the kingdom of tonkotsu ramen. The specialty of Kagoshima miso ramen is the balance of soup, noodles, and a lot of vegetable. The soup looks so thick and rich since it is dark in colour, but actually it is very simple and fresh. Their medium thick noodles have a good chew. Crispy green onions, crunchy bean sprouts, and leafy cabbages give this bowl a nice balance.
If you are not already enjoying miso in your daily diet, here are some reasons why you should start incorporating it into your diet now!
1. Improves Gut Health: The fermentation process produces beneficial bacteria that help us stay healthy
2. Rich in Vitamins: Miso is rich in minerals and a good source of different types of vitamins
3. Instant Flavor Booster: Adds umami to all sorts of dishes, like soup and ramen broths
4. Easy to Use: Miso is a versatile ingredient. Turn it into a spread, use it as a dressing or a condiment.
5. Easy to Incorporate into Your Diet: Try out our simple and delicious 5-ingredient clam miso soup recipe!
Need some bowls for your miso soup or miso ramen? Check out our most popular bowls to use with miso dishes!