Food

What are the Most Common Japanese Ramen Toppings? Well, Here They Are

Ramen broths are paired with complimentary toppings versus being a total topping bukkakefest

This is a generalized breakdown that’ll give you a basic idea of the regional styles and the toppings that go with the varying broths (the star of the show): shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (fermented soy beans), and tonkotsu (pork bone).

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Toppings compliment the broth like fluffers to the main star (the broth). Image once again by the City Foodsters

As a general rule of thumb for Japanese ramen toppings, less is more (as in number of ingredients because Jiro style is a shit ton of one or two toppings).

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Ichiran, Hakata/Fukuoka style tonkotsu ramen. My goto people for imagery City Foodsters

This is not the end all, be all toppings list, but it is a list of what you will traditionally find in Japan or around the world at any legit ramen-ya. Afterall, you can throw corn, bok choy, and squid on a thick crust, deep-dish pizza and call it a New York style pizza if everybody you’re serving it to is none the wiser.

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Yuzu shio ramen at Afuri, Japan. Image by the City Foodsters

As ramen continues to develop, a number of non-traditional toppings are starting to show up although this list is a good base for producing a ramen that reflects the flavors and culture of Japan.

Menma, (Shio/Shoyu Bamboo Shoots)

Used often in: all types of ramen broths

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Image by DryPot via CC

Negi (Green Onions)

Used often in: all types of ramen broths

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Image by Bert Kimura

Ajitama/Nitamago/Hanjuku Tamago (Flavored Egg/Boiled-Egg)

Used often in: all types of ramen broths

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Image by Guilhem Vellut

Chashu (Pork Shoulder to Cheek) to Kakuni (Pork belly)

Used often in: all types of ramen

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Various Types of Chashu: Chicken, Beef, Duck, etc.

Used often in: all types of broths

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Kikurage (Wood ear Mushrooms)

Used often in: all types of broths

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Image used under CC.

Iwa Nori (Seaweed)

Used often in: shoyu, tonkotsu/iekei, paitan

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Image by Alice Wiegand, (Lyzzy)

Naruto or Kamaboko (Fish Cake)

Used often in: shoyu, paitan, miso, shio

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Image by Mitsuwa Marketplace.

Tamanegi (Diced Onions)

Used often in: all types of ramen broths

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Image by Steven Depolo

Ninniku (Freshly Grated to Mayu/Garlic Oil)

Used often in: tonkotsu, Jiro style

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Image by Kjokkenutstyr Net

Moyashi (Bean Sprouts)

Used often in: tonkotsu, Jiro style, miso

Plate of mung bean sprouts
Image by Frank C. Muller, CC

Kyabetsu (Cabbage)


Used often in: tonkotsu, Jiro style

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Image by F Delventhal

Kaiware (Radish Sprouts)

Used often in: shio

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Image by Kuromeri

Kizami/Beni Shōga (Pickled Ginger)

Used often in: tonkotsu

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Karashi Takana (Spicy Pickled Mustard Greens)

Used often in: tonkotsu (Hakata style), tsukemen

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Image by the City of Fukuoka, Japan

Horenso (Boiled Spinach)

Used often in: shoyu, tonkotsu/iekei

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Image by Edsel Little, CC

Kōn (Corn)

Used often in: miso (the Hokkaido region is a sweet corn producer)

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Image by Simon Lei

Batā (Butter)

Used often in: miso (the Hokkaido region is a milk producer)

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Image by Sarah Laval, CC

Wontons (Dumplings)

Used often in: shio

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Image by the Intercontinental Hong Kong, CC

There’s a number of other ingredients like umeboshi (pickled plum) on top of Santouka’s shio ramen that I love to chili threads that are used on tantan men to miso ramen. This list goes on and on from pork back fat in Jiro style ramen to a number of other ingredients that a number of you can cite that I probably overlooked (feel free to comment), but like I said, this is only a basic list.

42 regional varieties illustrated by Fanny Chu

If you are not in a state or a country that understands ramen, you will probably get all the ingredients tossed all in which does not yield a proper Japanese ramen. So if you want to taste “less is more,” get this poster by Fanny Chu because a lot of work went into it. Not to mention being able to appreciate and respect the regional varieties she researched and illustrated.

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