1. ”What Is Tonkotsu Ramen”?
Hello ramen lovers all over the world! As some of you know, here in Japan, we have several kinds of local ramen, like “Sapporo ramen” for Hokkaido, “Kitakata ramen” for Fukushima, and so forth. In Fukuoka, we’re so proud of our special local ramen – tonkotsu ramen! (*The term “tonkotsu” comes from pork bone) Today you’ll learn what it is all about!
[Features of tonkotsu ramen]
- The soup is pork-based broth. Some restaurants offer ramen with lighter soup, and others a little heavier. But you need to know that it is basically creamy and richer than other kinds of ramen (like shoyu, shio, etc). You can choose the best restaurant based on your preference.
- The noodles are thinner than normal ramen so that the soup and noodles blend well with each other.
- Technically speaking, tonkotsu ramen can be divided into 3 different types, Hakata ramen, Kurume ramen, and Nagahama ramen. But let me skip explaining it this time. All of them are tonkotsu ramen, so let’s not worry about the details, and just enjoy tonkotsu today!
2. How To Order Tonkotsu Ramen
Now, are you ready to place an order? Oh before that, you need to learn that you can choose the firmness of the noodles.Here’re the examples;
- Barikata (very firm)
- Kata (firm, like “al dente”)
- Futsu (normal, medium)
- Yawa (soft)
- Bariyawa (very soft)
*These are some of the most generally used ones. Some people use other terms, like “Harigane(=super extra hard)”
*”Bari” is a dialect word of Fukuoka, which means “very” or “extra”.
Are you surprised at these magic words? LOL The firmness of noodles varies depending on how long they’re boiled. From my experience, more than 80% of people choose firm ones, like “Barikata” or “Kata.” I hardly see someone ordering soft ones. We can say that the basic tonkotsu ramen is one with firm noodles.
So if this is your first time to try tonkotsu ramen, I recommend you order “Kata.” You can order like this;
「ラーメン、カタで！」(*meaning “one ramen with firm noodles”)
After that, you can tell how firm you prefer, firmer, softer, or it’s just right.
*Please note that some restaurants have ticket-vending machines. You can get a ticket before taking a seat. In that case, all you need to do is just pass the ticket to a staff member, and say, “カタで！(firm noodles, please!)”
3. How To Order “Kaedama”
Awesome! You are almost a tonkotsu ramen-meister now. This is the last thing you need to learn. Do you know what “kaedama” is? It is, so to speak, “noodle refill.” This is a unique system, which is seen only with tonkotsu ramen. You can enjoy another portion of noodles after eating up the first one. Of course, you can choose the firmness for kaedama again! Can you still eat? Do you want additional noodles?
Let’s just say “すみません(≒Excuse me)” to the staff, and “替え玉、カタで！(A noodle refill, firm one please).”
Then, you’ll be served additional noodles soon. Let’s put it into your bowl!
I’d like to recommend that you order kaedama shortly before finishing your previous bowl , because usually kaedama is served very soon after it’s ordered. (Except when the restaurant is too busy). And it’s not a good idea that you wait for your kaedama very long. You should get it while the soup is hot.
Okay, you just finished, and here comes your kaedama. What perfect timing! Yay, happy times again!
4. Let’s Explore Tonkotsu World
Did you have fun? I hope you learned a lot about our signature food, tonkotsu ramen. Please try it when you visit Fukuoka.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a chance to come here now. Here’s good news – some restaurants have branches overseas!
They are representative ramen restaurant chains. (I’m not really sure the taste is the same as that in Fukuoka though..!) So you can try their ramen in your country as well. Also, some restaurants have branches outside Fukuoka too (in Osaka, Tokyo etc…). tonkotsu ramen is worldwide now!
What I want to emphasize today is that tonkotsu ramen is amazing, we all love it, and we want you to love it too! If you’re interested, please just visit Fukuoka and explore tonkotsu World!
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy your tonkotsu experiences!
A freelancer in Fukuoka, Japan. Also a sports lover, a passionate English learner, and a mother with a girl.