The first time you have real, fresh ramen from a ramen restaurant can be almost life-changing. Ramen is warm, comforting, filling, and full of so many diverse flavors. However, as you sit down and look at the menu, you may notice that you're not sure what the various ramen dishes are. Typically, they are listed by their traditional Japanese names, which can be a little confusing to newcomers. Here is a look at the most common types of ramen you'll see on menus.
Shoyu is the Japanese word for a common style of soy sauce. And so shoyu ramen is a ramen that has been flavored with soy sauce. There is some variety in the dish between restaurants, but the broth is almost always deep brown with a notable soy sauce flavor. If you're new to ramen, this is a good one to try since shoyu is a familiar flavor. It's traditional to use curly noodles in shoyu ramen, but some modern restaurants may make it with straight noodles.
Shio is the word for "salt" in Japanese. Instead of being seasoned with soy sauce, the broth of this soup is seasoned with salt, which is a bit unusual in Japanese cuisine. The broth is clear with a yellowish tint, as it tends to be made from chicken and chicken bones. Shio ramen is almost always topped with an array of veggies and a hard-boiled egg. If you stir the runny egg yolk into the ramen broth, it will become creamy and thicker.
This is one of the most filling and complex types of ramen. Tonkatsu is the name of a specific broth made from pork bones. The broth is creamy and rich, with a silky texture. Tonkatsu ramen is typically made with straight noodles and is topped with slices of pork belly, which is fatty and rich.
Miso is a fermented paste known for its umami flavor. A ramen made with miso is really rich and flavorful. Since miso tends to be vegan, you do tend to see vegan versions of miso ramen on menus. However, this is not a strictly vegan dish, and there are often versions topped with chicken, beef, or pork, too.
When you visit a ramen restaurant and see the above options on the menu, you will now have an idea of what they are. Any one of the four would be a delicious option. It just depends on your preferences.