Tonkotsu Ramen Guide: Where to eat the best in the world

Tonkotsu Ramen Guide: Where to eat the best in the world

May 02, 2023 Tags 

Visit a Japanese restaurant that offers ramen on the menu, and you’ll likely find the Fukuoka specialty tonkotsu ramen. This pork-based ramen dish takes a long preparation time in order to draw out the soup’s umami flavor. If the boiling process is done right and the ingredients are excellent, you’ll be treated to rich and creamy tonkotsu ramen.

So if you’re visiting Japan and you want to try out this dish, you came to the right place. This post will give you some of the basics about tonkotsu ramen as well as the best places in the country where you can eat them.


What is usually in Tonkotsu Ramen?


Tonkotsu Ramen Ingredient Breakdown


The pork bone-based broth is tonkotsu ramen’s main ingredient. The bones and fat of pork as well as collagen are simmered over high heat for about 8 to 12 hours or more. The effect is a thick and creamy broth with a milky appearance. Traditional ramen noodles are used for this dish.


What toppings are in Tonkotsu Ramen?


A typical tonkotsu ramen will always have the chashu (or Japanese braised pork belly). Its intense flavor comes from a mixture that includes soy sauce, mirin, green onions, ginger, and garlic. The tender pork belly slices are added as a topping,

Tonkotsu ramen is also topped with menma (メンマ), which is made by fermenting dried bamboo shoots. It adds a crunchy twist to the noodle dish.


What does tonkotsu ramen taste like?


Japanese food lovers will delight in the warm creaminess of the tonkotsu ramen. It combines chewy noodles and an abundance of toppings in a delicious umami-flavored broth.  


What makes Tonkotsu Ramen different?



The tonkotsu broth in this recipe was boiled for nine hours.

Among all the types of ramen in Japan, tonkotsu ramen has the longest preparation. The word tonkotsu actually refers to the broth, not the flavor. Pork bones are boiled over low heat so that the fat and other bits mix in, creating a creamy and opaque texture.


Tonkotsu Ramen vs. Miso Ramen


Tonkotsu Ramen vs Miso Ramen


The process behind tonkotsu ramen results in a broth that is milky white in color and has a strong pork flavor. Miso ramen, on the other hand, has a broth that is miso-paste based. It gives the ramen a salty, savory, and slightly sweet flavor.

The choice between the two, ultimately, depends on what you like more. If you're into creamy and flavorful noodles, then tonkotsu ramen might be the way to go. But, if you're more into a slightly sweet and savory taste, then miso ramen could be more your thing. We tell you all about the different types of ramen in our complete Japanese ramen guide.


The World’s Best Tonkotsu Ramen


Since tonkotsu ramen is from Fukuoka, it’s only natural that the best ones can be found in the said prefecture. But you don’t have to worry if you’re scheduled to visit another part of the country. You will surely find delicious tonkotsu ramen that rivals the quality and taste of those sold by restaurants in Fukuoka.

So without further ado, here are some of the restaurants that serve the best tonkotsu ramen in the world.



Ichiran (Nakasu)


Ichiran Nakasu


If there’s one restaurant you must absolutely visit in Fukuoka for top-tier tonkotsu ramen, Ichiran Nakasu is the way to go. The restaurant’s Hakata ramen (a version of the tonkotsu ramen).

The restaurant chain that was established in Fukuoka in 1993 prides itself on its fresh noodles and serving the food within 15 seconds. But that’s not all. Customers can request a specific way to prepare their tonkotsu ramen.

From the intensity of the flavor and the tenderness of the noodles to the amount of each ingredient, you can request all of these using their form (which is also available in English).


Ippudo (New York)


Ippudo New York


The best tonkotsu ramen isn’t just found in Japan. Fortunately for New Yorkers, they have multiple Ippudo restaurants in the Big Apple. They serve their delectable tonkotsu ramen piping hot, so enjoy it with caution.

When the chef creates the basic broth, which has the essence of pork, beef chicken, or seafood. To add flavor, soy sauce, salt, miso, and other ingredients are included. However, the amount and combination of these ingredients can vary depending on the chef's personal preference.

Chefs don't just toss these ingredients together haphazardly. They put their own unique spin on the dish by carefully selecting the thickness, length, shape, and texture of the noodles. This allows them to showcase their creativity and culinary skills.


Ide Shoten (Wakayama)


Ide Shoten Wakayama


If you’re arriving at the Kansai International Airport, why not make Ide Shoten in Wakayama your stop? The shop offers a unique twist in the form of tonkotsu shoyu ramen

The shop’s popularity skyrocketed in 1998 when it topped the best ramen in a nationwide survey. Through the years, it has maintained its status as one of the top spots for ramen in the land of the rising sun.


Shin Shin (Fukuoka)


Shin Shin Fukuoka


Ask a Fukuoka local about the best ramen in the area, and you’ll most likely be pointed to Shin Shin. 

This restaurant prides itself on its one-of-a-kind pork bone broth, which is different from the typical Nagahama and Hakata ramen. Their approach is to create a "pure soup" that appeals to all ages and genders. 

To achieve this, they use pork bones sourced primarily from Japan. Its other ingredients are sourced from Saga and Kyushu.

A serving of Shin Shin’s ramen is large. You can also add pepper, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame seeds depending on your preference.


Mengekijo Genei (Fukuoka)


Mengekijo Genei Fukuoka


Mengekijo Genei restaurants are truly unique. The dining area is set up like a mini auditorium. People face the front when seated as if they’re watching a show. The chef takes the stage, which comes with a big window that allows hungry customers to witness the careful preparation of ramen. And it’s not just for show. 

But the performance isn’t the only feature of Mengekijo Genei. It is known for serving noodle dishes free of MSG, and it’s all thanks to the efforts of Hideki Irie. His creation took research and experimentation. The result is a lighter yet tasty tonkotsu ramen.




Tonkotsu Ramen with Pork


Tonkotsu ramen is a beloved dish not just in Japan, but also around the world. Many ramen shops outside of Japan also offer tonkotsu ramen on their menus, and some have even gained a reputation for serving some of the best tonkotsu ramen outside of Japan.

While tonkotsu ramen from Fukuoka may be considered the gold standard, it's important to note that each region and even individual restaurants may have their own unique twist on the dish. Some may use different types of noodles or toppings, while others may vary the seasoning or thickness of the broth.

In any case, whether you're in Fukuoka or another part of Japan, it's worth seeking out a bowl of tonkotsu ramen and experiencing the rich, creamy broth and tender pork slices for yourself. 

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