How to Order Ramen in Japan: 5 Easy Steps

In 5 Easy Steps, Learn How to Order Ramen in Japan.

One of the biggest concerns of visitors visiting Japan is what to eat. Ramen is one of the most popular foods even among Japanese people.

I’ve had Japanese ramen in England, America and other countries, but I prefer to eat it in Japan. Today, I’d like to provide some tips for navigating a Japanese ramen restaurant so that you don’t get lost and can swiftly make your order.

1. Finding a ramen store in Japan is the first step

Nowadays, you may learn about great ramen restaurants through the internet, blogs, or your local friends. Go to a bookshop and search for a local information magazine, in my opinion.

If you are able to read Japanese, go to the bookshop. There are a number of publications dedicated exclusively or largely to ramen; you can see images in the publications if you can’t read Japanese, so don’t worry too much.

If you’re really lost, then check out our guides on the best ramen in shinjuku if you’re in Tokyo. If you want to be fancy, you can even check out our guide on the Michelin star ramen in Tokyo too.

If you’re in Kyoto, then definitely check out Kyoto Ramen Koji.

2. Select a Ramen Style and Topping in Japan

Green onion, cloud ear mushroom, and two pork chunks are included in the standard ramen. By default, Aji-tama ramen includes a boiled egg marinated in soy and mirin.

The standard ramen includes a lot of cha-shu, or pig slices.

Kikurage-ramen has a large amount of kikurage, a cloud ear mushroom.

Negi-standard ramen’s ramen contains a lot of chopped green onion.

As you can imagine, there are many different types of ramen that we won’t list all on here to save you from reading for 2 hours.

Instead, let’s look at some of the most common soup bases in Japan. Here’s a breakdown of the many varieties of soups, how to read them, and what’s in them!

  • Shoyu, a mild Soy Sauce-based soup that is easy on the palate.
  • Tonkotsu is a Japanese soup that can be light or heavy depending on how it’s made. It’s commonly made with pig bones and simmered for hours. In some circumstances, days.
  • Niboshi, a light or thick soup that depends on how long it has been simmering. This meal is made using sardines, which are generally dried. It’s basically a Tonkotsu-style soup made out of chicken bones.
  • Shio, a salt-based soup with a low calorie count.
  • Miso is a soup made from fermented bean paste that has a distinct taste. This has a weight to it on the palate.

You could eat ramen for the remainder of your vacation to Japan and never run out of new combinations to try since there are so many different varieties of noodles and soups to choose from.

3. What Kind of Noodle Do You Want?

Determine the Noodle’s firmness, this is the next step and there are 4 Japanese terms you’re going to need to remember:

  1. Bari-kata – very hard,
  2. Kata – hard
  3. Futsu – normal
  4. Yawa – soft

They boil the noodle when they receive the order so that they may manage the hardness by altering the cooking time. This is why you need to ensure the ramen chef knows what firmness you want your noodles to be (my favorite is Kata, hard firmness noodles).

Ramen also comes with an interesting option you may not be used to with other foods; if you finish your noodles before the soup broth, you can simply add the Kae-dama noodle (Kae-dama meaning an extra order of noodles). It’s just approximately $1 in most ramen restaurants in Shinjuku, so it’s a better deal than ordering another ramen bowl if you want to eat more.

But be careful: you won’t be able to order the soup, so don’t eat it! Tonkotsu ramen restaurants are typically the ones who use this. You won’t be questioned about it if you go to a different restaurant, such as Shoyu or a miso ramen joint.

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4. Place an order using the ticket vending machines

Generally speaking, ramen shops in Japan may be divided into two categories: conventional restaurants where you place your order with staff, and businesses that employ a ticketing system where you order from a vending machine and then take your ticket to the counter to pay.

The vending machine system is becoming increasingly popular owing to its efficiency, and although it may look complicated at first glance, it is actually rather straightforward.

The machines, which resemble huge coffee vending machines, are frequently located immediately outside the store’s main door. Touch panels and English-language settings are available on some of the most recent models.

However, even if they don’t, most restaurants feature clear photographs next to each item to make it easier for non-natives to navigate the menu.

There is nothing more to it than making your selections and paying for them before taking your ticket to the counter, where the cooks will produce a delectable concoction tailored to your tastes.

5. Enjoy your hard-earned (or ordered…) Ramen in Japan!

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the fifth and final step. You’ve most likely ordered your ramen while reading our awesome article on your phone (if you really have succeeded, then please feel free to share this with your friends…we’d be super happy to know if our advice worked!). 

Without hesitation, slurp it up; slurping is actually very polite in Japan and indicates to the ramen master that you’re really enjoying your ramen. When eating, it is quite fine and natural to make some noise, especially in public.

What to order with your ramen in Japan as a side dish

Seriously, you’ve ordered your ramen and you’re still reading this article because you’re thinking that the bowl of ramen isn’t big enough…

If the above describes your situation, then have no fear. We are still here to recommend some great side dishes for you to order with your ramen in Japan.

Side dishes like as rice and gyoza are popular (Japanese dumplings). Rice is occasionally given out as a freebie.

In some cases, you may be able to add condiments to your order for free after you’ve picked it up. Common examples include soy sauce, chile oil, vinegar, ginger, miso, garlic, and pickles.

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