Ramen (ラーメン rāmen?, IPA: [ɽäꜜmeɴ]) is a Japanese noodle soup dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork (チャーシューchāshū?), dried seaweed (海苔 nori?), kamaboko, and green onions. Nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.

Ramen glossary


assari – literally “light/simple”. A classification for ramen characterized by a lighter, clearer, and less oily soup. 

beni shōga – literally “red ginger”. Often used as a topping in tonkotsu ramen as well as many other Japanese dishes.

bonito – type of fish commonly used in making dashi. The fish is usually fermented and smoked.

chahan – fried rice.

chashu – simmered pork served as a ramen topping. Chashu is also sometimes offered as a cold side dish and garnished with green onions.

​ chuuka soba – literally “chinese soba”. This term is often used interchangeably with ramen, but sometimes chuuka soba refers to a slightly different type of noodles which are more yellow and lower in fat than regular ramen.

dashi – soup stock, commonly made with dried bonito flakes and kombu among other ingredients.

​ gyoza – Japanese version of Chinese dumplings, made with ingredients such as pork, garlic, and cabbage. Gyoza are pan-friend, and served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar.

hakata ramen – one of the most popular types of ramen in Japan, characterized by a rich, milky tonkotsu broth and hard, thin noodles.

hanjuku egg – marinated “half-boiled” egg commonly served with ramen.

​ kaedama – extra serving of noodles. Kaedama is only available at some ramenyas, and gives you an extra serving of noodles only. Make sure you save some soup!

kakuni – thick braised piece of pork belly.

kamaboko – processed “cake” of pureed white fish. Also see naruto.

​ kansui – a type of mineral water used in making ramen noodles. The purity and content of kansui is closely regulated in Japan. Kansui gives ramen noodles its distinct taste and texture and gives it a slight yellowish color.

kayaku – seasoning packet found in instant and cup/bowl ramen that flavors the soup. Some instant ramen also include a packet of oil to further enhance the soup flavors.

kikurage – “black wood ear” mushrooms

kombu – wide, large type of sun-dried seaweed used for sushi and dashi.

kotteri – literally “rich/thick”. A classification for ramen characterized by a heavier, more oily soup.

​ kurobuta – literally “black pig”. Kurobuta pork is the “kobe beef” of the pork world, prized for its rich flavor and tender texture due to its marbling and fat content.

menma – seasoned, dried bamboo shoots, used as a topping in ramen. See shinachiku.

​ miso ramen – ramen made with a miso (soybean paste) flavored soup base.

moyashi – bean sprouts.

​ nama ramen – “raw ramen” is a type of packaged ramen that consists of fresh, uncooked noodles and packet(s) of seasoning/soup base. Nama ramen is usually refrigerated and meant to be eaten within a short period of time.

​ naruto – Japanese fish cake characterized by a pink or red swirl in the middle. (Ok, it’s also the title character of a very popular Japanese comic book/cartoon who’s obsessed with ramen.)

negi – a type of Japanese green onions used as a ramen topping.

ninniku – garlic

nori – seaweed

ramen – that which you crave!

​ ramenya – “ramen shop” or “ramen house”. “-ya” is a Japanese suffix indicating a store that sells a particular item.

ramyun – Korean version of ramen, often spicy, with curly, slightly wider noodles than its Japanese kin.

 shina soba – “Chinese noodles.” Another term for ramen, similar to chuuka soba. 

shinachiku – seasoned, dried bamboo shoots. See menma.

shio ramen – ramen made with a salt flavored soup base. Shio ramen broth has a clear, light color.

shoyu ramen – ramen with soy sauce flavored soup base. Shoyu broth is clear and dark.

​ soba – Japanese noodles made from buckwheat, usually served cold with a seperate dipping sauce or in a hot broth. Soba is not ramen and both the noodles and soup taste very differently than ramen noodles and soup.

tantanmen – Japanese version of a spicy Chinese (Sichuan to be exact) chili noodle dish that typically contains minced pork and scallions.

​ tonkotsu ramen – ramen with a soup base made from pork bone. Tonkotsu broth is characterized by a milky, tan color, and usually has a more oily, richer, and thicker taste than other types of ramen.

tonkotsu-shio – hybrid ramen made with a combination of tonkotsu and shio (salt) soup base.

tonkotsu-shoyu – hybrid ramen made with a combination of tonkotsu and shoyu (soy sauce) soup base.

tsukemen – a type of ramen with the soup and noodles served seperately. The noodles are meant to be dipped into the soup, then slurped.

umami – the “fifth taste” best described as savoriness or meatiness. Umami is especially noticeable in protein rich foods such as meat, mushrooms, seaweed, and yes, MSG.

wakame – type of thin, stringy seaweed used as a ramen topping.

wonton – type of Chinese dumpling, usually filled with pork or shrimp, minced onions and seasoning, and boiled

wontonmen – ramen with wontons

​ yaki-nori – grilled nori (seaweed)