Ramen Toppings: Key To A Devine Taste

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Ramen (ラーメン) refers to a dish prepared with Chinese noodles, served in a hot soup. This delicious dish is typical of Japanese cuisine and favored by almost all people. Visitors can find ramen shops in every corner in the country. Depending on the types, regions and the toppings added, the dish has distinctive flavors. In this article, we will provide a brief introduction into the most favorable ramen toppings in Japan.

Top Favorable Ramen Toppings 

1. Meat toppings

Chashu vs Kakuni

Ramen is always meaty. Among all the ramen toppings, chashu (derived from the Chinese word char siu) is so ubiquitous that in a standard bowl of ramen always bob some slices of chashu. It is often the fatty slices of roasted or braised pork, although some ramen shops can replace pork by chicken, duck or beef.  Even those non-pork meats might be called chashu. 

ramen toppings

Melt-in-your-mouth rolled chashu for ramen

Depending on the chef, some shops serve kakuni instead of the chashu. Kakuni is also pork but literally means “square simmered”. It is always made from pork belly and no other part of the pig. This ramen topping has a similar cooking technique to Chashu but involves cutting the pork into squares that are then braised..The rather distinctive sweetness and the softness also makes kakuni a great topping for ramen.

toppings for ramen

Kakuni is also pork but literally means “square simmered”.

Narutomaki/kamaboko

Kamaboko is actually a famous fish cake in Japan. It is also known as Surimi, processed from finely minced whitefish, soaked in glair, salt, sugar, fish sauce, sake and then molded into long cylindrical bars.

Kamaboko’s shape is not fixed but depends on the creativity of the person who made it. The most popular type is the wavy shape called Naruto, resembling the famous whirlpools near Naruto City. There are also different shapes such as smooth tubular, flower, rabbit, panda, green frog, so on.

ramen toppings

The wavy shape of Naruto resembles the whirlpools near Naruto City

Kamaboko is usually served with hot dishes such as Soba, Udon, and especially Ramen.

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2. Vegetable Toppings

Green Onion

Most ramen comes with some sort of vegetable toppings such as bean sprouts for miso ramen or cabbage for salt ramen. The vegetable toppings vary according to the soup base, but one that is used frequently as a topping regardless of the soup base is the scallion or green onion. The fragrance of the scallion manages to ease the denseness of the ramen and provides a different texture while eating.

ramen toppings

By adding scallions, the ramen bowl looks more delicious and appealing

Menma

Menma is a condiment made from dried and fermented bamboo shoots. The dried bamboo shoots are reconstituted then seasoned in dashi. Menma is famously used as a topping for ramen, because of its  texture and unique fragance. This topping for ramen is so crunchy and flavorful that it can be served as snack.

ramen toppings

Menma is so crunchy and flavorful that it can be served as a snack.

Ground Garlic

When visiting a ramen shop, customers will find many condiments on the table. Perhaps among those condiments, ground garlic is the most favorable to top on ramen. Garlic has a distinctive scent along with spiciness, so if you feel the need for a change of flavor after tasting your ramen, it may make for a nice addition to your bowl.

toppings for ramen

Garlic has a distinctive scent along with a spiciness

Seaweed

There are plenty of types of ramen where seaweed is used as a topping. Seaweed has many nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and calcium. This ramen topping can be cut into thin strips with scissors or crumbled atop the broth and noodles How it’s eaten varies by person, but some people prefer eating the crispy seaweed first or there are those who eat it together with the noodles.

ramen toppings

Seaweed has many nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and calcium

Pickled Ginger

Raw ginger is way too harsh for ramen, but when pickled it offers a nice contrast to the spice and a little kick. It also can reset you between bites of other foods on the table. That ‘s why it is quite a popular ramen topping in every restaurant in the country. When first seeing pickled ginger, foreign customers tend to hesitate to try it due to the uncommon color. However, the bright reddish-pink color of ginger is achieved by Red Perilla – a natural food coloring, so it is completely safe.

Totally different from the original color, ginger turns reddish-pink after being pickled

Kimchi

Kimchi ramen has recently gained popularity in Japan. This dish is a combination of the deliciousness of soft fatty noodles and rich broth and the typical sourness, spiciness of kimchi. This Korea- rooted ramen is worth a try in cold days or winter days.

ramen toppings

This Korea-rooted ramen is worth a try in cold days or winter days.

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3. Others

Egg

Egg is the most favorable topping in the world, and Japan cannot be off-trend. In this country, egg is processed in three ways: flavoring and haft-cooking, poaching and omelet, among which the first method is the most favorite. The flavored egg is often cooked in soy sauce, and the flavored egg whites match well with the creamy yolk in the ramen. Thick soups such as miso-based ramen often have a raw egg instead of a flavored egg as a topping instead.

Eggs: cooking time and after-cooking status

Corn And Butter

In Hokkaido, corn and butter are used as toppings. These two toppings are commonly found in miso ramen. The miso broth is made creamier by the thick knob of butter placed on top that melts its way into the hot soup, and the corn gives an added sweetness. With Hokkaido’s sub-zero temperatures, this rich and comforting meal will warm you up in the winter months.

Butter corn ramen – Hokkaido’s specialty

For more toppings for ramen, click the link below:

Conclusion

In the article above, we have provided you an insight into most favorable ramen toppings. Of course, there’s plenty of other ingredients available to be used as toppings for ramen, and more are being added to the list every day. Hopefully, everyone can develop a combination of ingredients that make their own dream bowl of ramen.

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.