25 Ramen Bowls You Must Try Before You Die

Over the course of six months, Fanny Chu of Berkeley, California traveled Japan in search of the country’s most perfect bowl of ramen noodles. What came from her tasting over 100 bowls of ramen is quite simply a work of art. Introducing The Ramen Chart. I’ll let Fanny explain…

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The Ramen Journey

I’ve always loved ramen, but having only tasted it in the U.S., I grew very curious about how authentic ramen in Japan might compare. That’s when I set my goal to try 100+ bowls in 6 months. Right after I booked my ticket to Japan, I started planning for my ramen shop destinations. I did research based on Japan’s famous ramen magazine, The Ramen Walker, contacted ramen experts, food critics, and more.

Above all, my favorite ramen was from a shop called ロックンビリーS1, “Rock’n & Billy Super 1” located in Hyogo near Osaka. The chef, Shimazaki, is one of Japan’s most famous ramen masters. I tried his shio, shoyu, and tsukemen. Although they were all very delicious, my favorite was his shio ramen, which is based on a pure chicken soup that is made out of some of Japan’s tastiest chicken. The ramen looks simple and sounds simple, but the flavor is indescribably delicious! The broth is pure, but you can taste a full range of chicken flavors. The toppings include a very tender chicken breast, prepared bamboo shoots, cilantro, scallions, and lemon zest. The combination was interesting yet tasty and was really something new to me. Then, of course, there was the Shoyu ramen at Tsuta 蔦, the first ramen shop to receive a Michelin star:
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Some of my best memories from the trip came from my visits to Japan’s many specialty cafes. I visited different types throughout my travels, including a maid cafe, a ninja cafe, a cat cafe, a rabbit cafe, a game-based cafe (Artnia by Square Enix), and — of course — cafes based on anime characters like Totoro and Doraemon. I even went to a cross-dressing cafe, where a young man dressed as a maid tried to feed me! Overall, it was an incredible experience and I look forward to visiting more specialty cafes and continuing the ramen hunt.

About the Ramen Chart

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The design of the chart is based on the 25 best bowls that I personally selected from the 100+ bowls of ramen I tried in Japan. For me, the broth is the key to a great bowl of ramen. Most chefs spend most of their time on making the perfect broth from scratch, so that’s why I made sure to include a soup flavor tab to capture that information. The main thing I concluded from this experiment was that when it comes to ramen, the combinations are truly endless. Not only that, ramen tastes really vary across Japan. As such, the chart is also sorted by location.
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What I am hoping to achieve with the project is to share my experience and the knowledge I gained with other ramen lovers in a visual way. I encourage my fellow ramen fans to use this chart to follow in my footsteps and experience one of Japan’s great culinary contributions. Enjoy!
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You can get your own copy of The Ramen Chart (including Fanny’s hanko, artist stamp) and some of her other great products dedicated to Japanese food from her online store or by supporting her Kickstarter campaign. Want to see more from Fannie? Make sure to follow her blog, The Japanese Foodie, or find her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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