For tasty Saga ramen, visit these three ramen shops. Saga City is all about rich pork bone ramen...and raw egg as a topping!
Saga is the smallest prefecture on Japan's Southern island of Kyushu.
The local ramen style might not be as famous as what's served in Fukuoka prefecture next door. But it's shamefully underrated. Below are 3 shops in Saga City (Saga prefecture's capital) that best represent it.
1. Motomura - Classic is Best
There's no hiding the fact that Saga is pork bone ramen country. Motomura (らーめん もとむら) is essentially a torch bearer for classic Saga pork bone ramen.
Their soup carries a sharp pork bone smell. But there's a pleasantly rich pork flavor to accompany it. Not to keep using Fukuoka for comparison, but the soup in Saga isn't as thick as in Fukuoka. Furthermore, the noodles are thicker and softer. Both of these things are noticeable at Motomura.
The toppings are as follows - seaweed, pork chashu slices, green negi (spring onions), and a bright yellow raw egg. In summary, think of Motomura as serving uninterrupted, classic Saga ramen.
2. Koyokaku - Creamy Rich Ramen
This might be my personal favorite on this list. Koyokaku (幸陽閣) does their bowl quite differently. Namely, the pork bone soup is thicker and heavier. I'm not one to necessarily crave a heavier, creamier soup. But I love what they've done.
The raw egg topping only adds to this creaminess. Compared to Motomura, the noodles are even softer. The slices of pork are also more strongly seasoned with salt. Lastly, you'll find more green negi (spring onions).
Koyokaku has a history going back to 1974. They actually closed down in 2008. But they brilliantly reopened after successfully finding an apprentice and training him up. I'm so glad they did.
3. Ichigen - The Apprentice
Some believe that Ichigen (佐賀ラーメン いちげん。) serves Saga prefecture's best ramen. Ichigen's owner trained at Motomura, the first entry on this list. Ichigen's ramen definitely has a similar flavor profile to Motomura. But it's perhaps more fine-tuned.
The soy sauce seasoned soup is 100% pork bones...of course. It's like a modern version of Motomura that isnt as creamy as Koyokaku. Everything is top-notch - the soup, noodles, and toppings.
Ichigen is a bit out of the way. But this doesn't deter anymore. Given its lofty status, do expect a longer line.
Saga Ramen Recap
While not as well-known as other tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen styles, Saga is worthy of attention.
It packs a delicious punch, raw egg included.