The Very Best Instant Ramen from Japan – consider this the ULTIMATE LIST!
Japan’s Best Instant Ramen
After eating hundreds of types of Japanese instant ramen, I’m narrowing it down to 10. In this Top 10 list, we’re covering the whole spectrum, from savory miso ramen to silky pork bone ramen.
Below are all fancier Instant Ramen from Japan – the bowl-shaped ones with toppings. In other words, we’re not including the simple packet or cup instant ramen. These are the cream of the crop – let’s dive in!
1. Kitakata Thick Noodle Ramen
Kitakata City has more ramen shops per capita than ANY OTHER Japanese city. In other words, they worship ramen there. The local style is known for its light but deeply flavored, soy sauce (shoyu) seasoned soup.
It’s also known for its awesomely thick noodles and soft, fatty slices of chashu pork. These wonderful Kitakata Ramen features are replicated beautifully in this instant ramen from company Yamadai.
2. Chicken Ramen with Japanese Yuzu Citrus
Shio (salt-seasoned) Ramen is harder to come by outside of Japan. Think of Shio (salt) as a cousin of Shoyu (soy sauce). This instant ramen is a perfect representation of shio ramen done properly.
The light but lively shio seasoning allows beautiful chicken flavors in the soup to emerge. Furthermore, chicken meatballs (not pork slices) drive this chicken theme home. For even more depth, there’s a packet of yuzu citrus.
3. Comforting Miso Ramen from Sumire
This is the official instant ramen from miso ramen powerhouse Sumire. Sumire is arguably Sapporo City’s most famous ramen shop. To be clear – Sapporo is where miso ramen was born.
Just like at their ramen shop, this instant version boasts a complex soup with a powerful miso base. This includes a thick layer of Sumire’s signature pork lard. The big and wavy Sapporo style noodles are a real treat too.
4. Michelin Star Worthy Tantanmen
Nakiryu is one of only two ramen restaurants in Tokyo to have a coveted Michelin star (as of 2021). We’re lucky that Nakiryu decided to bring their high-level tantanmen (a spicy ramen style) to the instant ramen world.
It’s crazy how close they get it to their actual ramen shop. This is especially reflected in the multiple-layered soup. There’s sourness from apple vinegar, spiciness from raiyu chili oil, and a warmth from chicken and other ingredients.
The Instant Ramen you’re seeing can be purchased directly from Instant Ramen Japan!
5. Smooth Pork Bone Ramen from Santouka
Tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen maybe become the most consumed type overseas. We partially have ramen group Santouka to thank for its popularity. Santouka has number of branches overseas, especially in the US.
Their official instant ramen is spectacular. The pork bone soup is smooth and rich. But there’s also a bright flavor coming from a shio seasoning. Lastly, the toppings are quality. This includes their trademark ume plum.
6. Spicy Tantanmen with Crunchy Onions
This one from company Acecook is special – to the point where it won an award! This is another entry for Tantanmen (a spicy ramen derived from dan dan noodles). More specifically, this is Katsu-ura Tantanmen.
Katsu-ura is a small fishing town in Chiba. Locals there concocted a chili-oil heavy tantanmen to help combat chilly winter evenings. This instant version even includes crunchy white onions – just like you’ll find in Katsu-ura.
7. Creamy, Soupless Ramen from Tokyo Abura Gumi
Soupless Ramen? Yes, there is such a thing. Tokyo ramen chain Tokyo Abura Gumi is easy to spot with their bright red neon signs. Their soupless ramen employs a thick and lardy soy sauce-based oil.
You naturally get the same in this instant ramen. But they crank it up a notch by adding a packet of creamy egg yolk sauce. This is a tasty delight, especially alongside the flat, chewy noodles.
8. Bold Wakayama Ramen
Wakayama is a region of Japan that’s fiercely proud of its ramen. They do both light and heavy ramen. This instant ramen is about the heavier style. It has a in-your-face richness coming from pork bones.
But it’s also got a bold soy sauce foundation. These two – pork bones and soy sauce, harmoniously converge. The toppings are no slouch either, with the colorful narutomaki (fishcake, a Wakayama staple) standing out the most.
9. Miso Curry Milk Ramen
Despite a lot going on (miso, curry, and milk), this ramen somehow works. It’s based on a regional ramen from snowy Aomori prefecture. These three ingredients in the soup taste as you’d expect…wonderfully.
The curry flavor is most prominent, and it’s followed by the miso. The milk lingers in the background, providing a certain smoothness. Enjoy the firm, thin noodles and the spring onions, bamboo shoots and pork chashu toppings!
10. Spicy Niboshi (Tantanmen)
We’re ending this list with a spicy instant ramen! Niboshi are dried fish and they’re a critical part of Japanese cuisine. This is the case with ramen too. If you’re reluctant about trying niboshi (fish), this ramen’s for you.
The smoky, slightly bitter niboshi flavors are there. But they don’t take over. This is due to the spicy and rich pork bone soup taking center stage. There’s even sansho, a popular numbing pepper in tantanmen.
I hope you enjoyed this! I’m going to have to do another Top 10 Best Instant Ramen list in the future…there are simply too many to cover. Again, if you want to try any of these, feel free to check out Instant Ramen Japan. You can enjoy them from the comfort of home.