Ramen is constantly changing and evolving.
One of the key elements of making a great bowl is “Toppings”, which can influence the entire flavor of a bowl.
There are countless ramen toppings available on the market, which is why we’ve compiled a list of our top recommended ramen toppings. Let’s dive into it!
13 Basic Ramen Toppings
Ajitama is a delicious, soft-boiled egg that is marinated in a savory sauce. Traditionally, the marinade is a solution of soy sauce and mirin. It is submerged and left inside the marinade for a few hours, resulting in a marvelously flavored soft-boiled egg. It has a delicate soft yolk, and it mixes exquisitely with the rich ramen broth. While enjoying a bouncy sensation of the egg whites, you can also experience the creamy harmony of egg yolk and ramen broth. Ajitama complements a wide variety of ramen broths, and is a standard ramen topping in all ramen shops.
Chashu are thinly sliced braised pork and are one of the most iconic toppings for ramen. Most commonly, they are marinated by soy sauce, miso, or salt. There is great variance in the taste of chashu, and it is determined by location of the cut of pork. Pork belly is the most common cut used for chashu, and its key characteristic is the fattiness. Pork loin chashu will contain less fat due to its leanness and is great for those who are conscious of their fat intake. Chashu’s texture goes well with ramen noodles and are commonly eaten together.
Menma is fermented bamboo shoots that are marinated in savory broth. It is one of the few staple ramen toppings that are found in every bowl of ramen. Menma has a smooth surface and crunchy texture, mixing well with the firmness of ramen noodles. The marinade seeped within is an exquisite soy sauce mixture and complements the ramen broth well. Although it is most commonly used as a ramen topping, it also serves as a versatile snack or appetizer. Menma goes well with plain white rice, or as an alcohol complement.
4. Pork Ginger Sautee
Pork Shouga Yaki, or Pork Ginger Sautee, is a popular comfort food in Japanese cuisine. It is commonly made with pork belly, and is fried with ginger, soy sauce, mirin, cooking sake, and some onions. Its defining characteristic is a kick of ginger, and it complements the rich flavor of the marinade. As a ramen topping, Shouga Yaki will provide a myriad of textures. The soft pork belly slices gently encase the firm ramen noodles, creating an intriguing harmony. The ginger serves as a refreshing accompaniment to the thick ramen broth.
5. Pork Kimchi Sautee
Pork Kimchi Sautee is a popular dish in Japan. It combines the Korean staple kimchi, and thinly sliced pork belly. Kimchi is a mixture of fermented vegetables marinated in a spicy condiment mixture. Most prevalent vegetables are nappa cabbage and radishes. The texture is crunchy and is mildly spicy. This delicious Korean side dish is combined with sliced pork belly over a pan, and creates an irresistible sensation of spicy crunchiness. The spiciness of kimchi and fattiness of pork belly complement ramen noodles well, and serves as an interesting textural addition.
Kakuni is thick-sliced or cubed pork belly, and is marinated in a savory soy sauce mixture. The marinate is normally made from soy sauce, sugar, green onion, and cooking sake. After marinating the pork belly pieces for hours it produces a soft, rich piece of meat that melts inside your mouth. While it is served as an entrée dish complementary to plain white rice, kakuni is also a popular ramen topping. Compared to chashu, it has a much richer taste and is perfect for those looking for a savory, delicious meat topping.
Wonton is a Chinese comfort dish made from meat and wheat-based wrappers. Seen in many Chinese restaurants across the United States, wonton remains one of the most popular dishes amongst foreigners. Most commonly, wonton is filled with either ground pork or shrimp. The wrapper is made from flour, egg, water, and salt. Once the meat filling is wrapped up, it is either boiled with soup or deep fried. Wonton has a soft texture, and it absorbs the flavor of its soup. It is a flavorful, filling, and irresistible ramen topping choice.
8. Fish Cake (Naruto)
Fisk cake, or naruto, is a type of ground-up fish cake. Naruto is made from a paste of ground-up white fish, and is solidified into its signature spiral shape through steaming. Coming from a massive family of fish cakes available in Japanese cuisine, naruto is one of the most iconic ones amongst foreigners. It is one of the standard ramen toppings, and is found in almost every ramen bowl made. Naruto provides a hint of color to the bowl, and aesthetically finishes the dish. Along with its visual purpose, naruto has a textural function. Having a bouncy sensation, it goes perfectly well with firm ramen noodles.
Bacon is arguably one of the most popular cuts of pork amongst food-lovers. Having a massive culture around it on its own, it is no surprise that this also exists as a popular ramen topping choice. Bacon is traditionally pan-fried, and it gets crispier the longer its fried in oil. As a ramen topping, bacon can either be fried to a crisp or until the heat runs through. Crispy bacon will provide a complementary texture to the soft, bouncy ramen noodles. Soft bacon will serve a similar function as chashu, where its fattiness combines well with the rich ramen broth.
10. Meat Miso
Meat miso, or niku miso, is a popular side dish in Japanese cuisine, made from ground meat and miso paste. It typically uses ground pork meat, and is fried with a paste made from a mixture of miso, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, and cooking sake. This versatile comfort dish goes well with any starch base, from plain white rice to udon noodles. As a ramen topping, niku miso serves as both a texture and flavor bomb. The soft crumbly texture combines intricately with ramen noodles, while its rich flavor adds depth to ramen broth.
Spam is a widely popular canned meat product/brand in the United States. Becoming a critical part of Hawaiian culture since WWII, this sensational product has been popularized across United States. Spam is made from cooked pork, and contains copious amounts of salt as a form of preservation. Normally, it is either grilled or eaten straight from the can. Its signature saltiness is similar to bacon, and is commonly incorporated to dishes in similar ways. Spam has a firm texture, similar to chashu. The savouriness of it serves as an additional flavor blast to ramen broths.
12. Pork Toro
Pork toro, or ton toro, refers to the cut of meat taken from a pig’s cheek. In cuisines around the world, they are either used as fresh cuts or cured via smoke/salt. Its signature characteristic is the fat content similar to tuna toro, and is often referred to as the most delicious parts of pork. Ton toro is most commonly cooked with green onion and a salt based marinate. It is one of the most popular Japanese bar foods, as its fat content goes exquisitely well with beer. Ton toro serves a similar function to chashu, and is a fantastic flavor enhancer.
13. Ai Gamo
Ai Gamo is a crossbreed between mallard and domestic duck. A type of meat uncommon in United States, ai gamo may be new to many ramen-lovers. The flavor is very similar to duck meat that is more common, but has a slightly fattier taste. Its unique fragrance may choose audiences, but for those who enjoy duck meat it is a must-try. Ai gamo servers as an interesting accent to ramen broth, and the duck fragrance may mix well with certain ramen broths.
3 Seafood Toppings for Ramen
Oysters are an incredibly popular type of shellfish eaten around the world. They are many different ways to prepare oysters, ranging from serving raw to deep-frying. It has a distinct seafood fragrance and a very soft, creamy texture similar to pudding. Considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, oysters have a luxurious aftertaste. As a ramen topping, they are most commonly pan-fried with various seasonings. Its signature fragrance is an exquisite addition to any seafood-based ramen broth, and the texture is a solid complement to ramen noodles. For any shellfish lovers, oyster toppings are a must-have.
Shrimp is an immensely popular type of shellfish found in cuisines across the world. From shrimp cocktails to battered shrimp, this shellfish is a beloved part of many people’s diets. When boiled they have a firm, irresistible meaty texture. The shrimp itself has a slightly salty taste, and it goes well with a wide variety of seasonings. When pan-fried, they attain a grilled aftertaste and mildly crispy exterior. When deep-fired, the batter adds an extra crisp to its tail. This versatile seafood ingredient is a fantastic ramen topping, and will pair very well with any seafood-based ramen broth.
Tuna is a massive saltwater fish that is very popular in Japanese cuisine. It can be served in a variety of different ways, from raw sashimi cuts to tuna salads. As a critical part of Japanese culture, tuna fish has been incorporated most commonly into sushi form. It has a signature fatty taste and a smooth texture. When cooked, it turns into a dry yet flavorful fish meat that goes well with creamy condiments such as mayonnaise. As a ramen topping, cooked tuna combines harmoniously with the rich ramen broth. Its dryness serves as a complement to the creamy ramen broth, and creates an irresistible sensation.
19 Vegetarian Toppings for Ramen
Nori is a dried edible seaweed that is widely used in Japanese cuisine. It is paper thin, crispy, yet durable enough that it will wrap large rice rolls without breaking. Nori has a distinct fragrance, although it is negligible when combined with other foods. It is used to wrap many different rice dishes in Japan, from sushi to rice balls. Nori is also used as a garnish for soup dishes, rice bowls, and many more. It is one of the most common ramen toppings found in shops across the world. Not only does it have an aesthetic purpose, nori mixes extremely well texturally with creamy ramen broths.
Wakame is a species of kelp that is widely used in Japanese cuisine. Raw wakame has a slimy texture, and is very flimsy. Dried wakame that is re-softened by soaking in water has a rather coarser texture, but is nonetheless flimsy. It tends to have a gentler aftertaste, and is more commonly used than raw wakame. Being an incredibly versatile ingredient, it is used in any number of dishes ranging from soups to salads. Wakame has a soft crunch to it, and it pairs very well with any ramen bowl.
Negi, or scallion, is a common vegetable found in many East Asian dishes. It’s sensation is similar to the average onion, but with a more distinct fragrance. Scallion looks like a very long straw, and is normally chopped up horizontally. It is most commonly used as garnish on fried rice, soups, tofu dishes, and any other dish that is thick in flavor. The refreshing nature of scallion serves as a perfect complement to the rich flavor of ramen broth, and is a must-have topping for all bowls. In addition, it serves an aesthetic purpose as it gives color to an overall brownish color pallet.
Corn is an extremely popular vegetable found in most parts of the world. Thought to have origins in Mexico, this versatile vegetable can be enjoyed in a myriad of different ways. From corn potage to popcorn, this ingredient is prevalent in most of our foods we come across in everyday life. Although corn is not native to Japan, westernization has allowed its incorporation in many of the newer dishes. Most commonly, corn is added in miso ramen or vegetable-based ramens. In addition to its appetizing pop of color, the corns distinct sweetness serves as a perfect partner to the thick miso broth.
Asparagus is a vegetable found in many European cuisines. It has a distinct, assertive taste with a slightly bitter undertone. Its texture can be somewhat in between crunchy and soft. There are many different ways to prepare asparagus, ranging from baking to broiling. It is most commonly baked or pan-fried with olive oil, butter, garlic, and/or black pepper. Although this vegetable is not native to Japan, it was introduced through westernization and is now seen in many new fusion dishes. The slight bitterness of Asparagus will go very well with the thicker ramen broths, as it will neutralize one another.
22. Bean Sprouts
Bean sprouts are an extremely common vegetable found in East Asian cuisine. They have a crunchy texture and a distinct meaty taste. It is an incredibly versatile vegetable used in soups, stir-fry, salads, and dumpling fillings. Bean sprouts are known in Japan for its cheapness, and is a popular vegetable for those who wish to save money. Nonetheless, bean sprouts are by far one of the best texture companions for ramen soup. Its crunchiness complements the bouncy ramen noodles very well, and its blandness allows the broths flavor to pop out.
Onions are a vegetable found in virtually any dish across the world. They have a myriad of different preparations, from caramelization to grilling. In Japanese cuisine, they are used in nearly every type of dish ranging from miso soup to traditional broil dishes. While it has a rather strong taste when eaten raw, it serves as a neutralizing accent to many Japanese foods that contain lots of sodium. In ramen, onions serve a similar function. While ramen broths by very nature can be rather thick in taste, onions can help neutralize this to offset this. The combination of onion and ramen broth forms a mellow harmony of flavor.
Takana is a species of mustard plant, and is commonly used in cuisines across the world. In Japan, it is most commonly pickled or marinated in salt and is eaten along with plain white rice. It has a crunchy, coarse texture and has a slightly fragrant aftertaste. Takana is also incorporated into fried rice, spring rolls, and other broiled foods. Pickled takana is very savory, and will pair very well with any starch base. As a vegetable, the crunch becomes an excellent partner to the soft and bouncy ramen noodles.
Ginger is a type of root vegetable found commonly in East Asian cuisine. Often touted as a health essential, the vegetable has gained popularity within Western cultures in recent years. Historically, ginger was believed to have many health benefits including digestive stimulation, antioxidant effects, and anti-inflammatory effects. During cold days, Japanese families will make ginger tea or soups made from ginger to keep warm. Its refreshing nature makes it a fantastic accent to thick ramen soups, and can indeed be enjoyed in cold weather.
Cabbage is a leafy vegetable found in many Western cuisines. It has a firm, crunchy texture, and a very subtle taste. It’s used in a variety of different dishes, ranging from cabbage soups to stuffed cabbage. Being low on calories, it became the main ingredient for a fad diet that was popular during the 1980s. Although cabbage was not native to Japan, westernization allowed them to be incorporated in modern fusion dishes. As a ramen topping, it is widely used as part of vegetable stir-fry. Its crunchy texture and bland flavor fits incredibly well with ramens that have thicker taste.
Spinach is a popular vegetable found in many different cuisines around the world. It is extremely versatile, and is used in a wide array of dishes like casserole and soups. In Japanese cuisine, the most common way of preparation is either boiling or pan-frying. Spinach has a soft texture and rich taste, making it one of the most popular vegetable ingredients. Salt-boiled spinach is commonly eaten with soy sauce and/or ponzu. Pan-fried spinach is a common ingredient of ramen toppings, and it adds a fragrant grilled taste to ramen.
Jelly fungus, or kikurage, is a common type of mushroom found in East Asian cuisine. It has a very crunchy texture and a distinct fragrance. They are normally purchased dry, and are soaked in water right before use. Kikurage is usually chopped in thin strips, similar to the width of ramen noodles. Its signature crunchiness is retained even when heated, making it a popular textural option for many stir-fry dishes. Kikurage is one of the popular toppings for ramen, as its texture pairs exquisitely well with ramen noodles. It can also be enjoyed as is with the ramen broth, as a small break from eating noodles midway.
29. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are a species native to East Asia. Compared to regular button mushrooms common in Western cuisines, these have a meatier texture and a distinct flavor. They are known to have many health benefits such as improved immunity, heart health, and anti-cancer activity. Shiitake can be eaten in many ways, ranging from grilled to broiled in soups. Their meaty texture makes it a wonderful combination to ramen noodles, as they complement one another. In addition, their distinct mushroom flavor serves as a unique garnish to the ramen dish as a whole.
Tomato is a juicy fruit found in many different cuisines around the world. Originating from western South America and Central America, this savory fruit has made its way around the globe due to its taste. Being a truly versatile vegetable, it can be used to make anything ranging from sauces, salads, to stews. The tomato itself contains natural umami flavor, contributing to its popularity. Although the fruit is not native to Japan, westernization has popularized it and is now incorporated in many dishes. It can be incorporated into ramen in many ways, whether it be a topping or part of base broth. The refreshing and flavorful nature of tomatoes work well with starchy ramen noodles.
Pineapple is a tropical fruit that sometimes causes controversy within certain cuisines. Indigenous to South America, this fruit has a relatively sweet taste and juicy texture. When it is not ripe enough, pineapples can be on a rather sour side. Due to its juicy and sugary nature, it is sometimes incorporated into savory foods such as pizza, hamburgers, and some South East Asian cuisines. The combination of citrus and sweetness provides an interesting harmony to savory dishes, as they equalize one another. As a ramen topping, pineapples can serve as a refreshing factor to thick ramen broths.
32. Vegetable Sautee
Vegetable sauté is a mixture of stir-fried vegetables, and they most commonly are made from cabbage, bean sprouts, spinach, onions, and kikurage. The Sautee is generally cooked in a wok, contributing to its roasted flavor. It is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sesame oil. Although it is sometimes eaten as a rice entrée, ramens such as tanmen have this as a key feature. Vegetable sauté adds variety to the overall palate, and provides aesthetic value on ramen. The crunchiness of each vegetable makes an interesting textural experience, and enhances the ramen bowl.
Broccoli is a vegetable commonly used in Western cuisines. There are a wide variety of culinary uses, ranging from salads to casseroles. Broccoli can be eaten both raw and cooked, making it a popular ingredient selection. It is known to contain lots of vitamin C which is beneficial for bone health, immunity, and many more. It has a bushy, crunchy texture with very subtle flavor. Although it is not native to Japan, westernization has allowed it to be incorporated in many modern fusion dishes. As a ramen topping, broccoli is a great textural addition as its crunchiness complements the noodles very well.
34. Kaiware Daikon
Kaiware daikon is a type of vegetable frequently used in Japanese cuisine as garnish. They are sprouted daikon radish seeds, and has a distinct spicy flavor. Kaiware daikon can be used in salads, sushi, or garnish for cold dishes. They are very thin sprouts, and have a crunchy texture. They are also used as a colorful touch to many dishes, as Japanese traditional food values color balance. Due to its rather spicy taste, it serves as a refreshment factor to the overall taste palate of ramen. The contrast between umami and spiciness is a must-try experience.
Garlic is an extremely common vegetable found in cuisines virtually all over the world. It is most commonly used as a seasoning, and adds a strong savory fragrance to dishes. Garlic has recently been popularized as a miracle health vegetable, and is thought to provide immunity boosts, lowered blood pressure, and many health benefits. This vegetable is used widely in Japanese cuisine that involves lots of rich flavor. It provides a nice kick to an otherwise mellow flavor, and gives off a fragrant taste. As a ramen topping, they are either fried and sprinkled on top, or is incorporated within the broth.
2 Dairy Toppings for Ramen
Cheese is an immensely popular dairy food that is incorporated into many different dishes around the globe. Having origins in Europe, cheese has formed an entire culture around its industry. The almost cult-like hype that it induces is due to how delicious it is. For example, mozzarella cheese that is most commonly used in cuisines have an ability to melt within the dish. This soft, stretchy cheese sensation is irresistible. When placed on top of piping hot ramen, the cheese will melt and create an exquisite sheet of creamy, stretchy cheese. Combined with the rich ramen broth, cheese adds an extra layer of flavor and texture.
Butter is a dairy product that is used in a wide variety of cuisines all over the world. It has a salty, creamy flavor and soft texture. It is used for virtually anything, ranging from baked goods to certain stews. Within the realm of cuisines, it is most commonly used as a grease agent when pan-frying ingredients. Butter gives off a slight milky fragrance to foods, and goes well with any starch-based ingredient. Although it is not native to Japan, the introduction of butter via westernization heavily influenced Japanese cooking. Butter is most commonly added in miso ramen, and provides a rich backdrop to the miso paste.
6 Spicy Toppings for Ramen
Kimchi is a very popular Korean side dish. It is a mixture of fermented vegetables marinated in a spicy condiment mixture. Most prevalent vegetables are nappa cabbage and radishes. The texture is crunchy and is mildly spicy. Kimchi goes incredibly well with any starch base such as plain rice, pasta, and tofu. This makes it a perfect addition to starchy ramen noodles. The inherit savouriness kimchi has mixes exceptionally well with ramen overall. Its spiciness is just the right amount for a soup, and its crunch complements the noodles very well.
39. Red chili pepper
Red chili peppers are a popular condiment used in a wide range of cuisines around the world. They add a spicy kick to cuisines, providing a stimulating experience. They are found in various parts of the world such as East Asia, South East Asia, and Southern America. Chili peppers can be eaten as a whole, or be chopped up into fine pieces. They can also be eaten after they are sun-dried. In Japan, they are sparingly used in some dishes as a garnish. For those who love spicy food, adding chili pepper to ramen is a must.
Doubangiang is a Chinese fermented bean paste, made from broad beans, chili peppers, soybeans, salt, and flour. It is hot and savory, making it a popular addition to many dishes across East Asia. Doubangiang is used specifically in Sichuan cuisine, such as mapo tofu. The bean paste is a versatile ingredient when making spicy food, and can be used in stews, stir-fries, marinates, and soups. Its inherit savouriness makes the seasoning process of foods simple and effective. Doubangiang is a popular food condiment in Japan to make Chinese/Chinese-style Japanese foods. For spicy ramens, having a base of doubangiang will be essential to its flavor.
Siracha is an extremely popular spicy condiment made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Originating from Thailand, this condiment became a cultural sensation in the recent years. Siracha has a distinct combination of sweet, sour, and spicy. The condiment is used in virtually any dish that can be spiced up. Its unique ratio of vinegar, chili, and sugar makes it an irresistible taste for any spice-lover. Although spicy foods are not as prevalent in Japanese traditional cuisines, modern Japanese foods have incorporated spiciness to a certain degree. Adding siracha to any ramen can enhance the experience for those looking for a spicy kick to their meal.
Wasabi is a Japanese horseradish paste, and has a distinct nasal tinge when consuming it. Widely used as a sashimi/sushi condiment, wasabi provides clarity in flavors that may be too mellow for someone’s taste. When combined with raw fish, it can take away its fishy aftertaste. Although its unique type of spiciness turns down some people, it continues to be a favorite spice condiment for many others. Its fragrant nature makes it an interesting addition to ramen. While ramen can sometimes become repetitive over time, adding wasabi can give a layer of pizzazz to the bowl.
43. Yuzu pepper
Yuzu pepper is a Japanese paste made from yuzu citrus, chili peppers, and salt. The ingredients are combined then fermented to create a very pungent paste. It is used in a wide variety of Japanese cuisine, ranging from hot pots to sashimi. The paste itself is very salty, with a strong yuzu citrus fragrance. It is a great addition to soups both for flavor and aroma. Yuzu pepper ramen is one of many popular ramens outside of the standard flavors. While retaining the thick savouriness of ramen broth, it adds its own distinct aroma that becomes addictive.
Wrap it Up!
Have you found your favorite toppings? Of course, there are plenty more hidden gems we haven’t covered on this post, so let us know if we are missing your favorite!