Ten-cent packages of ramen may provide a sodium-filled sense of college nostalgia, but true Japanese ramen is another story. And, contrary to popular belief, there’s more of this Japanese soupy goodness lurking in Tucson than you might have thought.
Ramen broths aren’t available in your neighborhood grocery store. The hours needed for a delicious tonkotsu broth consist of vigorously boiling pork bones for hours to form a creamy emulsion. Broth varieties also include miso, shoyu (soy sauce), and more.
Here are our picks for where to politely slurp away.
Ramen from Fat Noodle (Photo credit: Fat Noodle)
Beginning with the most non-traditional of the bunch – and the only food truck – Fat Noodle’s ramen includes a thinner bacon broth, summer squash, and butter. But, the flavors do make sense in your mouth. This food truck also offers ramen burgers if you want to try the trending noodle bun.
More info on Fat Noodle Facebook page.
5425 N. Kolb Rd. #115
Chashu Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen at Ginza in Tucson
Savory slices of chashu add extra pork belly fat to an already sinfully rich bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The velvety egg yolk adds another layer of richness. Pickled ginger adds a sharp contrast.
More info at ginzatucson.com.
2040 W. Orange Grove Rd. #180
Spicy Tonkotsu ramen at Ikkyu in Tucson
Ramen is only available at Ikkyu on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A slice of slightly-chewy naruto provides a color contrast, while lean pork slices round off the bowl of spicy tonkotsu ramen. If you want it spicier, each table has shakers of Japanese red pepper and bottles of Sriracha.
Visit Ikkyu on Facebook.
K Japanese Restaurant
2962 N. Campbell
Ramen at K Japanese Restaurant (Credit: Adam Lehrman)
Hidden behind Old Chicago in the former Yuki Sushi is one of Tucson’s newest options for ramen. K Japanese rich tonkotsu broth is filling and hearty. Ordering isn’t difficult but it’s slightly confusing as you have to pick your broth, noodle, and meat. For ramen, you’ll need to select ramen noodles, tonkotsu broth, and char siu pork, unless, of course, you don’t want true ramen.
More info at on K Japanese Facebook page.
OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen
350 E. Congress St.
Ramen at OBON Sushi Bar Ramen (Credit: Matthew Martinez)
The hippest ramen option, OBON doesn’t make a sacrifice in quality. The eponymous OBON Ramen features roasted pork shoulder, pork belly, dried shredded chili, bambo shoots, scallion, and a 64º egg. The cold Spicy Kimchi and Mikado are also available for refreshment.
For more information, visit obonsushi.com.
1101 N. Wilmot Rd.
Beef Broth Tonkotsu at Sachiko (Credit: Adam Lehrman)
Eastside sushi fave, Sachiko (they also have a second location on Valencia), does not feature a traditional pork broth tonkotsu. But, for what they lack in a true tonkotsu, they more than make up for with their pork and soy sauce broth. Other options include a seafood version and miso. Super friendly service. Ramen is served with a California roll.
Keep up with Sachiko Sushi on Facebook.
3912 N. Oracle Rd.
Tonkotsu ramen at Samurai in Tucson
Samurai has the smallest bowls of ramen on this list, but it’s also more affordable. Bean sprouts cool down the piping hot broth so you can start slurping sooner. Variations such as cold ramen and Tan Tan ramen make refreshingseasonal appearances.
Cold ramen at Samurai in Tucson
More info on Samurai Facebook page.
5655 E. River Rd. #151
Shio ramen at chashu at Sushi Yukari in Tucson
Formerly Sushi Yukari and located at the Whole Foods shopping center at River and Craycroft, Sushi Zona’s shio (salt) broth provides a simpler and cleaner flavor. The massive bowl also comes with a California roll and side salad, so come hungry.
More info at sushizona.com.
Yamato Japanese Restaurant
857 E. Grant Rd.
Tonkotsu Ramen at Yamato Japanese Restaurant
Yamato Japanese Restaurant is small and easy to miss. Located in a strip mall two doors east from Sher-E-Punjab, they’ve been there since 1988 with the same master sushi chef, owner, and operator, Noboru Nakajima. It’s some of the best sushi in Tucson. They also happen to serve three types of ramen: Tonkotsu, or a pork broth, Miso, and Shoyu.
More info on Yamato Facebook page.
2741 N. Campbell Ave.
Ramen Land with miso broth at Yoshimatsu in Tucson
Since moving into their new location across the street, they’ve significantly stepped up their ramen game. They have about ten different varieties now, including seasonal summer specials such as the Hiyashi Kale Ramen.
More info at yoshimatsuaz.com.
Have a favorite that didn’t make the list? Please let us know in the comments below.