Kyushu, the shrine to Ramen that everyone has set their eyes on
The key to Ramen is making a strong broth from chicken stock and pork bone. Close attention is also paid to the thickness and texture of noodles, and the ingredients, producing extremely diverse variations. Every region of Japan has its own “local Ramen”, loved by locals and tourists.
Kyushu in particular is home of “Tonkotsu Ramen”, wildly popular both in Japan and abroad. Tonkotsu Ramen actually varies by region, consisting of “5 Main Kyushu Ramens”, each with distinct flavor and ingredients.
“Kurume Ramen”, the original Tonkotsu Ramen
Tonkotsu broth was created in 1937 in Kurume city, located in the southern part of Fukuoka Prefecture. After much trial and error, it evolved into a white, opaque “Cloudy Tonkotsu broth” which became the basis for Tonkotsu Ramen. It is known for its distinctively rich flavor and straight, firm, thickish noodles.
“Hakata Ramen” is a lightly flavored Tonkotsu Ramen
Fukuoka’s “Hakata Ramen” usually has a lightly flavored broth, with super thin, straight noodles. Because thin noodles are stretchy, generally a small amount of noodles is served with refills offered. Another distinct feature of Hakata Ramen is being able to order it with a firmness of your choosing.
“Kumamoto Ramen”, with its mild Tonkotsu broth
“Kumamoto Ramen” has a mild broth which blends chicken stock into pork bone that only consists of the pig’s head. The broth made of chip-shaped fried garlic and Mayu (oil used to fry garlic) will stimulate your appetite, intensely.
“Kagoshima Ramen”, with its Awase Dashi that combines pork bone and dried goods
As Kagoshima is over 200 km (roughly 124 miles) from Fukuoka, the influence of Kurume’s Tonkotsu Ramen was slight, allowing for an original Tonkotsu Ramen to develop. Its semi-opaque broth blends chicken stock, vegetables and dried goods such as kombu, dried sardines, and dried shiitake mushrooms with pork bone. This Ramen is served with pickled daikon and green tea.
“Nagasaki Ramen”, made with a clear ago-dashi broth
“Nagasaki Ramen” is known for its dashi broth made from Ago (a name for flying fish in Kyushu), rare in Kyushu. This clear, light but rich broth gets its amber color from a dashi made with char-broiled Ago.
Check out the origin of Kumamoto Ramen’s distinct ingredients
This highly rated Ramen restaurant has an uncompromising attention to detail. At “Komurasaki”, where the original Kumamoto Ramen was made, the staff continues to insist on maintaining the flavor from their start in 1954 with the same broth as well as noodles and ingredients.
For example, the noodles produced specially by a local artisan are made from the best thin, crispy bean sprouts and raw flour. Both are made with a time-honored technique.
The source of its delicious flavor is Kumamoto’s natural spring water
The owner of “Komurasaki” says that Kumamoto Ramen is delicious thanks to Kumamoto’s natural spring water. The river rising from the caldera of Mount Aso and water that formed an underground flow from rain that fell on Mount Aso join to form Shirakawa River which flows through Kumamoto’s towns, and empties into Ariake Sea. Kumamoto’s bean sprouts and Nori are nourished by this nutritional water, making it the source of the delicious noodles and broth.
Both the Shirakawa Riverhead where the springs of Mount Aso pour forth, as well as Ariake Sea, the Japanese sea with the greatest tidal range, are enticing tourist spots. We recommend that if you come to eat Ramen, that you also visit the source of the ingredients and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Above is the home of Nori, the Okoshiki Coast along Ariake Sea, and below is a cultivation area which cultivates Nori roughly 9 months a year. The Okoshiki Coast has been known since the 4th century for its sunset, with beautiful ripple marks at low tide created by wind and waves. Okoshiki Coast can be reached in roughly one and a half hours from Kumamoto Station by bus or the JR Misumi Line.
After hunting down Kyushu Ramen, buy some for home
Once you find your favorite Ramen you want to bring it home as a souvenir. The AEON MALL Kumamoto carries a wide selection of Ramen from all over Kyushu, including local Kumamoto Ramen. Noodles come in a rich variety of types, from raw noodles to dried, stick noodles. Treat yourself to some Kyushu Ramen at home which you didn’t get the chance to eat during your trip.
You can also enjoy Kyushu Ramen in the restaurant area of AEON MALL Kumamoto.
Check out the new and improved AEON MALL Kumamoto!
The AEON MALL Kumamoto is centered on “AEON STYLE” that offers visitors lifestyle options. It is popular locally as well for its wide selection and convenience. There is a wide supply of local products also.
AEON MALL Kumamoto
Address: 2232 Nagaike, Uejima, Kashima-machi, Kamimashiki gun, Kumamoto Prefecture
Open: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
*Business hours may vary by store.
Directions: Roughly 20 minutes from the Kumamoto Bus Terminal by bus
Support Kumamoto with the Gotochi WAON(local WAON)!
Among AEON’s electronic “WAON” you will find the “Gotochi WAON”, an ideal souvenir for the trip, with a design that represents regional features. AEON donates part of the money used with the “WAON” card to local governments to benefit regional economic revitalization, regional environmental conservation, tourism promotion, etc. “Kumamoto – Fire Country WAON” also benefits Kumamoto Prefecture’s industry development and regional revitalization projects.
Kyushu Ramen will move both newbies and veterans with its delicious flavor. Travel through Kyushu to eat your fill!