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Miso Ramen Origins

Miso Ramen Origins! This ramen style has achieved massive popularity well beyond Japan's borders. But how and where did miso ramen start?

We cover it all below!

1st Miso Ramen Wave - Simple Beginnings

Miso, made from fermented soybeans, is a cornerstone of Japanese cuisine. Our story begins with miso soup, a staple in Japan. This humble dish may have inspired the chef at Aji no Sanpei. He's often credited with creating the first miso ramen in Japan.

This happened in 1953 in snowy Sapporo, Hokkaido. They still serve their miso ramen today too! Before this, most bowls in the city were shoyu (soy sauce) based. But today Sapporo City is Japan's biggest bastion of miso ramen restaurants.

Miso Ramen Origins - Ramen Shingen
Miso Ramen at Ramen Shingen

Generally speaking, Sapporo style miso ramen is defined by a hearty, miso-powered soup and stir-fried vegetable toppings. We can't forget the yellow pigment, thick, wavy high hydration noodles. But these aren't rules. These days there's a lot of miso ramen variety from place to place.

Miso Ramen Origins - Ryu Shanghai
Spicy Miso Ramen at Ryu Shanghai

Around the same time (the 1950s), there was another miso ramen style brewing in another part of Japan. In similarly cold Yamagata prefecture, ramen restaurant Ryu Shanghai came up with a spicy miso ramen. In it, the miso is actually not in the soup itself. It's found in a red, spicy ball. This style is not as well known as Sapporo's.

Miso Ramen Origins - Snowy Sapporo City
Sapporo City, Hokkaido

2nd Miso Ramen Wave - A Heavier Rendition

In 1964, just a few years after Aji no Sanpei invented miso ramen, Sumire / Junren came on the scene. They ushered in a second wave of miso ramen in Sapporo.

Miso Ramen Origins - Junren
Miso Ramen at Junren

Their version includes a thick layer of pork lard in the soup. This gives the soup a heavier body, and an unmistakably tasty depth. It also serves the purpose of trapping of the heat. This is especially handy given how cold Sapporo is.

Miso Ramen Origins - Junren Noodles

Sumire / Junren miso ramen really took off in the 1980s. Even though they were once the same, today Sumire and Junren are two separate entities.

3rd Miso Ramen Wave - Experimentation

So, Aji no Sanpei blazed a miso ramen trail for everyone else to follow. Sumire and Junren thickened that trail with a richer, pork lardy soup. The trail now involves miso ramen restaurants trying new things.

Miso Ramen Origins - Ame wa Yasahiku Bowl
Miso Ramen at Ame wa Yasahiku

Take this bowl from Sapporo miso ramen restaurant Ame wa Yasahiku. There's a tower jutting out from the middle of the soup. The tower has a liver paste blended with dried sardines. With their modern approach, they definitely threw out the old playbook.

Miso Ramen Origins - Saimi Bowl
Miso Ramen at Saimi

Other miso ramen restaurants simply strive to perfect existing recipes. Sapporo miso ramen restaurant Saimi may be a perfect example of this. The owner at Saimi trained at Sumire back in the day. But many believe his miso ramen has surpassed that of Sumire serves. It's arguably more refined.

In summary, miso ramen has come a long, delicious way. I'm sure we'll continue to see boundaries pushed and recipes perfected in moving forward.


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