Kurume Ramen: The Origin of Tonkotsu Ramen
Do you know “Hakata Ippudo (博多 一風堂)”?
Ippudo is a Japanese ramen restaurant chain with branches around the world, which offers Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen, or Hakata-style pork bone broth noodle soup, simply called “Hakata Ramen (博多ラーメン)”.
Hakata Ramen, together with “Sapporo Miso Ramen (札幌味噌ラーメン)” and “Kitakata Ramen (喜多方ラーメン)“, is generally known as one of Japan’s 3 Major Local Ramen.
Actually, Hakata is the name of a city in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Although Hakata is very famous for its Tonkotsu Ramen, the birthplace of Tonkotsu Ramen isn’t the city.
Kurume Ramen (久留米ラーメン)
Have you ever heard of “Kurume Ramen (久留米ラーメン)”? which refers to the Kurume-style Tonkotsu Ramen that originated in Kurume, a city also located in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Nevertheless, its Tonkotsu ramen isn’t well-recognized outside of Japan just as even many Japanese don’t know detailed information about the pork bone broth ramen.
However, Tonkotsu ramen, the pork bone broth ramen widely enjoyed in the world has its roots in Kurume Ramen.
Nankin Senryo (南京千両)
Tonkotsu Ramen served at Nankin Senryo
The originator of Tonkotsu ramen still exists in the city of Kurume. The name of the ramen shop is “Nankin Senryo (南京千両)”, which was opened in 1937.
After that, from the city Kurume, the Kurume-style Tonkotsu ramen was introduced to the local areas of the Kyushu district except for Kagoshima Prefecture and influenced their local ramens.
Shop Information: Nankin Senryo (南京千両)
Address: 1357-15 Nonaka-machi, Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture (MAP)
Open: 11:30 to 22:00
Closed: Second Monday
Although the taste of Tonkotsu ramens offered in the city Kurume varies depending on each ramen restaurant, typical characteristics of Kurume Ramen are as follows.
In general, the broth is thick with a strong smell characteristic of pork bones as compared to that of Hakata Ramen, but it varies widely. Therefore, some ramen shops in Kurume provide light-tasting pork bone broth.
The noodles are straight, somewhat harder, and thicker than the ones for Hakata Ramen.
Kurume Ramen has almost the same toppings as Hakata Ramen, that is, basically cloud ear mushrooms, Chashu roast pork slices, and chopped green onions. Additionally, the noodle soup is often garnished with dry sheets of Nori seaweed.
The toppings typically used in Kumamoto Ramen (Kumamoto-style Tonkotsu Ramen), fried garlic chips, and black garlic oil are not used in Kurume Ramen.
Popular Ramen Restaurants
As I mentioned above, “Nankin Senryo (南京千両)” is a ramen shop that represents Kurume Ramen. In addition, here are another 2 popular ramen restaurants in Kurume.
Taiho Ramen (大砲ラーメン)
Taiho Ramen is a Kurume-based popular ramen restaurant chain offering authentic Kurume-style Tonkotsu ramen. The ramen restaurants were listed in the 2014 edition of the Michelin guide to Fukuoka and Saga.
Shop Information: Taiho Ramen Main Shop (大砲ラーメン本店)
Address: 11-8 Torihoka-machi, Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture (MAP)
Open: 11:00 to 21:00
Closed: New Year’s Day
Maruboshi Chuka Soba Center (丸星中華そばセンター)
Maruboshi Chuka Soba Center is a popular ramen shop in Kurume offering Tonkotsu ramen at an affordable price and is open 24 hours. Loved by many people, the pork bone broth ramen is packed with flavor.