February 28, 2017
It’s time to talk Japanese ramen everybody. We’ve done a lot of instant ramen videos up until this point. There is the How to Make Ramen and our How To Eat Ramen Like A Pro video, both featuring Korean instant ramen, and we’ve done other Korean cup ramen taste test videos as well. Interestingly, Korean ramen (pronounced more like ramyeon) is only served in the instant format. Even if you go to a Korean ramen restaurant (which might I add are not really common) the ramen served there is made with dried noodles. We had one close to our studio in Hongdae and I went once but could never justify spending money on it again since I could just make the same or better at home with additional ingredients. So up until this point, everything we’ve told you about ramen has been of the Korean variety.
It took us a while to put up a video dedicated to Japanese fresh ramen because we really wanted to learn about it before we started talking about it. And the best way to learn about it is to eat tons of ramen types until your palette starts to understand what it all means! And so we did, out of our dedication to you guys!
So today we’re dealing with pork bone broth ramen, called Tonkotsu Ramen. I knew that the broth itself could vary shop to shop, but I had no idea that it varied between regions in Japan as well. There is Kyushu, which is the most southwesterly region of Japan. Inside Kyushu, there is Fukuoka Prefecture (which is like a province or state) and inside of this prefecture there is Fukuoka City and Kurume City.
Fukuoka City’s main train station is called Hakata Station. Around this train station are many famous ramen shops serving up Fukuoka Style ramen known as Hakata Ramen which is also a type of rich Tonkotsu ramen. But a 20 minute train ride to Kurume city will bring you to the BIRTHPLACE OF TONKOTSU RAMEN IN ALL OF KYUSHU!
So that is the reason why we went all the way to Kurume. Local legend has it that a ramen chef in Kurume accidentally left his pot of pork bones on the heat all night long and when we woke up and tried it, he realized he stumbled upon something magical. By boiling the pork bones for such a long time, it breaks down the collagen, marrow and fat, and unleashes a creamy, white broth that tastes like magic. MAGIC I SAY!
So the particular ramen shop we went to in Kurume is called Kurume Ramen Seiyoken and it began in 1952 as a humble street food stall. It is a local favourite and a legend amongst the ramen shops. We were incredibly lucky to be able to film in the kitchen with them. So here’s what we learned!
Their particular Tonkotsu ramen is very very creamy because they boil their pork bones for three days to release as much collagen as possible. On top of that, they only use pork skull. They just include the brain and eyes, but not the tongue, and so it tastes much sweeter and is less fatty and heavy. Honestly, we can both say that this is the best Tonkotsu ramen we have ever had. It currently reigns supreme amongst the ramen we’ve had up until this point.
You might remember a long time ago when we first visited Japan for the opening of the YouTube Space we made some vlogs about our adventures and we had our first mouthful of Tonkotsu ramen while in Tokyo. Just trying it for the first time was a life changing food moment, but since then we’ve been trying many types of ramen so that we can understand what we personally like. We’ve found that most Tonkotsu ramen in Tokyo is very fatty and heavy, and it can easily give you a tummy ache. I always have a hard time finishing my Tonkotsu ramen in Tokyo, but that was not the case in Kurume.
Kurume Ramen Seiyoken’s broth makes for such an incredibly creamy, almost mushroom soup like flavour without the heavy oil or fat floating on top. In some Tonkotsu ramen places, you can feel the oil coating your lips. Not with this one. It was a really clean taste. We actually went to two other ramen places while we were in Fukuoka so we could have a point of comparison, and we still like Kurume’s style the most. The noodles they use are also totally different than those found in Tokyo ramen. Tokyo ramen tends to be a bit curly and thicker. But both Kurume and Hakata noodles are extremely thin and straight, and they cook very quickly. The serving size of both Kurume and Hakata style ramen is also much smaller than the noodles in Tokyo. In fact, for around 100yen you can ask for an additional serving of noodles, known as Kaedama 替え玉, and they’ll plop them into your bowl so you can enjoy the rest of your leftover broth. OH MAN. Editing this footage is just killing me.
So, that’s it. We tried being pretty thorough in our research of tonkotsu ramen, and we want to be that way for the other ramen videos we’ll do. We’re also really digging the idea of traveling to other parts of Japan to try to get better understandings of the food, and I can really see us getting obsessed with food culture here lately and we’ll need to get a hold of ourselves because flying out to places to eat ramen is kinda crazy. It’s ok. We actually also flew out to Fukuoka to film at another Sushi god’s place. He’s the guy that many people think has the best sushi in Japan, and overall foodies here argue whether it’s this guy or Saito. We’ll work on the footage and when you see it, you can let us know what you think. But till then, here’s some more footage of us talking about ramen!