This year’s Tokyo Ramen Show at Komazawa Park was spectacular, featuring 36 hand-picked ramen shops from all over Japan. Over eleven days, they diligently dished out thousands of deliciously complex ramen bowls. There was so shortage of variety – from the top voted uni ramen, to premium kelp ramen.
In total, I dived into 12 bowls this year. Check them ALL out below and even find out where the shops are located throughout Japan.
First Group: Oct 25 – 30
Snow Crab Miso Ramen
This Fukui prefecture ramen shop uses a rich, sweet miso paste and blends it with rice from a local temple warehouse. This is then combined with snow crab (feet and shoulder meat) to make the broth.
Ramen Shop: Ramen W
Spicy Nagoya Ramen
Nagoya doesn’t get as much love as other prefectures when it comes it comes to ramen. But I personally love Nagoya’s spicy “Taiwan Ramen”. This shop (Menya Sakura) really put Taiwan Ramen on the map.
Ramen Shop: Menya Sakura
This Ibaraki prefecture ramen shop made a bold statement with this uni-centric bowl. It was this year’s winner among the first group of 18 ramen shops, garnering the most votes.
They carefully blended uni into a thick and creamy paitan (chicken) broth. “Carefully” is the keyword – it wasn’t overpoweringly creamy with the addition of uni. While rich, the broth still had a clean and refreshing taste.
Thick Noodle Akita Chukasoba
Ramen Shop: Menya Jurohe
12 Spice Ramen with Cheese
The man, the myth, the legend. Kiyoshi Kunihara.
It’s not your traditional ramen but it was fantastic. The melted cheese helped mellow some of the sharper flavors.
This bowl was the work of ramen legend Kiyoshi Kunihara and Toyama prefecture crew. They’re most famous for their Black Toyama Ramen and they’ve won the Tokyo Ramen Show 5 times! But this year wanted to try something different. The spice ramen they created was also was pork free and halal. Great thinking.
Ramen Shop: Menya Iroha
Golden Noodle Miso Ramen
This place had the longest line of all the booths so I’m surprised they didn’t get top vote. Their miso ramen was spectacular. The broth was a clean, light and springy. It had a lot of flavor, assisted by homemade toubajan chili paste and a good amount of sesame seeds.
Ramen Shop: Sapporo Ramen Musashi
Second Group: Oct 31 – Nov 4
Ippudo x Nakamoto: Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen
Ippudo and Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto are probably 2 of the most well known ramen chains out there – the Apple of ramen brands. They’ve collaborated before and decided to do it again this year.
Fans love it when they do collaborate and rewarded them for it this year. Their ramen got the most votes out of the second group of 18 ramen shops.
It’s well deserved – these two worlds collided deliciously. That red hot Nakamoto broth matched up so well with the familiarly creamy Ippudo broth. What a combo! In size, this bowl was probably the biggest at the Tokyo Ramen Show.
Ramen Shop: Just type in “Ippudo” or “Nakamoto” in a search…I think you know the drill.
Hakodate Kelp Ramen
There was a lot going on in the broth here – a clear shio (salt) base with chicken bones and chicken meat, blue king crab and scallop sauces, and of course, sun-dried premium quality konbu (kelp).
Ramen Shop: Ramen Menkichi
Broiled Pork Rich Miso Ramen
This bowl was voted no. 2 among the second group. I can understand why. It was a hearty miso ramen broth with a peppery kick. But what really stood out was the broiled pork belly. Its smell was intoxicating.
For reference, the broth included 2 local miso pastes that have been delicately fermented, along with Ono soy sauce.
A potato-like barley is used in the noodles
Kurume Style Tonkotsu Ramen
I hadn’t had Kurume Ramen in a while. You never forget the smell. Even 5 meters away from the ramen booth, that familiar and somewhat foul smell once again invaded my nostrils.
The staff though were so self-conscious about not speaking English that they were childish in their interactions with non-Japanese (they assumed I spoke no Japanese). Regardless, a nice nice bowl! Just bring your nose plug.
Shinshu Premium Miso Ramen
The area of Shinshu in Nagano is actually best known for soba noodles. But maybe their ramen does the trick too? This ramen bowl is the collaboration between Nagano heavyweights Mensho Bunzo and Nanadaime Sukeya.
The premium miso used was from the warehouse of the 800+ year old temple Anyoji. But the miso broth was actually quite salty and thick. Diced onions, yuzu, and Matsumoto negi (scallion) provided a bit of sweetness. But there was also some spiciness from tougarashi. With all the above going on, the flavors may have been a bit muddled. But the sukiyaki style pork topping was a great touch.
Ramen Shop: Nanadaime Sukeya
Fluffy Dumpling Ramen
This place was really pushing their wonton dumplings. The dumplings were indeed fluffy and even cloud-like, considering how clear they were and how much water they had in them.
It was a strong tasting shoyu broth, thanks to strong flavors from niboshi and flying fish stock. I thought their decision to make the noodles softer was a good one. This brought back the attention to the pillow-like dumplings. The shabu-shabu style pork was also a smart decision, contributing to the fluffiness of the overall bowl.
Ramen Shop: Mensho Bunzo
All in all, the Tokyo Ramen Show 2018 outdid itself again!