For all of the ramen lovers out there, this guide serves to teach you all you need to know about the soup noodles. We first break down our list into the five main types of ramen and then offer our favourite Hong Kong shop in each category. 

We hope you love our recommendations as much as we do!

Ramen 101

Did you know that ramen means “pulled noodles”? In the olden days, a single lump of dough was manually pulled and folded many times until it formed a bunch of thin noodles. Today, the noodles can easily be crafted by a machine, but the dough is still made from the same basic ingredients: flour, salt, normal water, and kansui (alkaline water).

There are two main types of noodles: low-alkaline noodles that are thin and straight and high-alkaline noodles that are wavy and springy. Some say that thin noodles go well with a thinner broth, whilst wavy noodles go well with a thicker broth, but surely restaurants will try to create the perfect bowl of ramen that’s just right for diners.

What are the five main types of ramen?

Hakodate-style shio ramen

GOGYO best ramen in Hong Kong
Photo credit: Instagram/@gogyohk

Shio (salt) ramen originates in Hokkaido, with its distinct feature of flavouring the chicken broth with just salt, resulting in a golden-coloured soup. A simple rule of thumb in order to gauge the quality of your shio broth is through its opacity; the clearer the broth, the more sophisticated the cooking techniques used to create it.

Top pick: GOGYO

GOGYO’s tanrei shio (HKD108) is a refreshing getaway from the usual thick flavour punch of pork broth that we’re so used to in the 852. It’s light, savoury, slightly sweet… and we just can’t stop slurping. Topped with a melange of onion, spring onion, menma (fermented bamboo shoot), and melt-in-the-mouth pork, this bowl of shio ramen is beautifully executed and a definite recommend.

GOGYO, Shop B2, B/F, LANDMARK ALEXANDRA, 16–20 Chater Road, Central, 3568 5833, book here


Asahikawa-style shoyu ramen

RAMEN CUBISM best ramen in Hong Kong
Photo credit: Instagram/@ramencubism

Asahikawa-style ramen also originates from Hokkaido and is synonymous with shoyu (soy) broth. Shoyu-based broth is made by fermenting soybeans to create a sauce. It is usually sweeter than the shio style.

Top pick: RAMEN CUBISM

Landing in Hong Kong in 2019, Osaka brand RAMEN CUBISM is the brainchild of young Japanese chefs Hayashi Takao and Matsumura Takahiro. Master Hayashi is responsible for our preferred shoyu ramen in Hong Kong. The eatery’s premium soy sauce ramen (HKD98) showcases an umami-heavy broth made with shellfish, bonito, and nine different Japanese soy sauces. On the side, the noodles are complemented by an extra-thick slice of luscious slow-cooked pork belly.

RAMEN CUBISM, B/F, Yuen Yick Building, 27–29 Wellington Street, Central, 2399 0811, book here


Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen

ICHIRAN best ramen in Hong Kong
Photo credit: Instagram/@ichiran_hk

Originating in Fukuoka, Hakata-style ramen is the most common type of ramen in Hong Kong. This style is distinctive because of its tonkotsu (pork-bone broth) and thin, hard noodles. Tonkotsu broth is a thick soup made from boiling ground pork bones for 12–15 hours until the collagen dissolves into the stock as gelatine.

Top pick: ICHIRAN

Who doesn’t know and love ICHIRAN? The dining experience at ICHIRAN is all about you, the diner. You can fully customise your ramen (from HKD98), from the flavour strength of the broth, to the hardness of the noodles, to the condiments, slurping away in your own private cubicle. Having the social aspect taken away from dining lets guests focus on what’s in front of them: a hearty bowl of noodles.

ICHIRAN in Causeway Bay is by far the largest and busiest branch. If you’re looking to reduce the long queue to around 30 minutes or so, you can head to the Tsim Sha Tsui shop; this location has both cubicles and communal tables (if you’re willing to skip the “eating alone” experience, that is). 

ICHIRAN, multiple locations across Hong Kong 


Sapporo-style miso ramen

Kikanbo best ramen in Hong Kong
Photo credit: Instagram/@littlemsfoodie

Another recipe born in Hokkaido, miso ramen is rich, hearty, and nutty owing to the copious amounts of miso paste added to the broth. Traditionally, the noodles used in this style of ramen are thick, curly, and chewy.

Top pick: Kikanbo

Tokyo import Kikanbo debuted in Causeway Bay in 2019 and has since expanded with three more shops in Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Tai Wai, proving its popularity in Hong Kong. The brand is beloved for its spicy (or not) karashibi miso ramen (from HKD90), offering five levels of heat. The spice factor comes from a blend of various kinds of chilli peppers and tongue-numbing Japanese sansho pepper, with the spiciest Oni level featuring the notorious Carolina Reaper chilli.

We stand firmly in the middle with the “medium” level of spiciness in this robust miso broth that’s slow-cooked with pork and chicken bones and topped with braised pork belly, baby corn, and bean sprouts.

Kikanbo, multiple locations across Hong Kong


Tsukemen 

Shugetsu best ramen in Hong Kong
Photo credit: Instagram/@michelinguide

With tsukemen, the noodles and soup are served separately. The soup is usually very thick and heavy with seasoning. In Japan, you can choose to have your noodles cold or hot, but the soup is usually served warm. The idea is to dip the cold noodles into the dense, flavourful broth.

Top pick: Shugetsu

Nowadays, a lot of tsukemen restaurants have come up with gimmicky miscellanies on their menus, like adding a mound of uni on top of your noods. These fads undoubtedly add more people at the front door, but sometimes all we want is a classic dunk-and-eat bowl of tsukemen (HKD111), which Shugetsu does really well.

Awarded a Bib Gourmand for the past several years, Shugetsu is known for its broth base, using a soy sauce fermented for 18 months in a 100-year-old wooden basket. However, we think the star of the show is the noodles, which are thick and chewy enough to soak up the intense flavour of the chicken broth simmered with sardine and mackerel powder, kombu, and mirin.

Shugetsu, 5 Gough Street, Central, 2850 6009

Shugetsu, 30 Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay, 2336 7888

Stephanie Pliakas is the Digital Editor of Foodie. From Michelin-starred fine-dining to the local comfort-food eats dished out at cha chaan tengs, she has immersed herself in the 852’s ever-changing food scene since making Hong Kong her home more than a decade ago. When Stephanie is not devouring something delicious, she’s cooking and baking up a storm at home (whilst listening to true crime podcasts).

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