Header image courtesy of Nagahama No. 1 (via Facebook)
Ahhh, ramen. While it seems like an age ago that the ramen craze set Hong Kong’s restaurant scene on fire, we’re happy to report that the city’s love affair with these delicious noodles has stood the test of time, unlike other food fads that have come and gone (e.g. soufflé pancakes and rainbow foods, to name a few). Nowadays, Hongkongers are even more spoiled for choice, with soup options expanding from the reigning Hakata-style tonkotsu (豚骨ラーメン; pork bone broth) to creamy tori paitan (鶏白湯; chicken bone broth), delicate seafood broths, and more. Read on for our top picks!
This 12-seater restaurant on a quiet Central side street might look unassuming, but it’s one of the best examples of tonkotsu in town that manages to stay balanced and non-greasy without losing on richness or complexity. There are quite a few options on the menu, but you can’t go wrong with the classic number one ramen ($105), which comes with chashu (チャーシュー; roast pork), seaweed, black ear fungus, spring onion, and an egg. If you’re particularly partial to chashu, we’d recommend the roast pork ramen ($98), which comes with extra meat (fatty and lean cuts) that has been roasted to perfection. All noodles come with a side of Nagahama No. 1’s famous spicy beansprouts, which add a welcome tanginess and crunch to the meal.
Nagahama No. 1, 14 Kau U Fong, Central | (+852) 2323 6115
Not all ramens are created equal; certainly, not all chicken paitans are created equal. Though there are two major contenders in our books for this underrated ramen—Kane Tsuru and Osakan export Zagin Soba—Zagin Soba has inched ahead of the former with its extra frothy “cappuccino” style soup, which is agitated with a whisk just prior to serving in order to achieve its signature consistency. On the regular menu, you’re limited to just three noodle options here: regular tori paitan ramen, ramen in seafood and chicken broth, and tsukemen with chicken soup. There are seasonal items to choose from as well, should you be feeling more adventurous. With its creamy, moreish soup and chashu topping, the signature tori paitan reminds us of a lighter, soupier take on spaghetti carbonara. Each bowl of ramen comes with freshly fried burdock chips, which is a welcome change from the menma (メンマ; fermented bamboo shoots) that typically comes with tonkotsu. You can also order a side of smoked onsen egg to go with your order, or some juicy fried chicken.
Having trouble choosing between all these different broths? We’ve got just the thing. Michelin-starred Ramen House Konjiki Hototogisu, which is due to open its second location at Festival Walk this month, is famed for its “triple soup”—a complex, flavourful broth that’s made with pork, fish, and Hamaguri clams. Regardless of the type of ramen you order, each bowl is invariably topped with diced mushrooms, finely chopped herbs, and crunchy bacon chips, which is reason enough to give this place a shot, in our opinion.
Ramen House Konjiki Hototogisu, Shop 3020, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central | (+852) 2295 3308
If you’re a lover of all things prawn- and shellfish-flavoured, you’ll find the aroma at Ebisoba Ichigen “shrimply” irresistible. Dad jokes aside, this Sapporo restaurant chain is a godsend for seafood fans—the broth for their signature ramen is fortified with amaebi (あまえび; sweet shrimp) essence, oil, and soy sauce, while the bowl is topped with ground prawns and crunchy prawn tempura. For something a little different, try the Hong Kong-exclusive ebi mazesoba ($88), which is a dry stirred noodle dish topped with chashu, amaebi tempura, seaweed, and an onsen egg.
This sister restaurant to Zagin Soba may only be a few months old, but it’s already proven to be incredibly popular, with people forming a queue down Aberdeen Street for its rich madai paitan (鯛白湯; red sea bream bone broth) ramen at as early as 12 pm. Only 150 bowls of the rich white broth are available every day, though people who enjoy lighter flavours will be pleased to hear that the ramen with clear madai broth is available all day. Like Zagin Soba, the noodles here come topped with freshly fried burdock chips and a smoked onsen egg, though Maru De Sankaku also serves its noodles in clear broth with a crunchy morsel of fried fish skin, which provides a delightful textural contrast to the meal.
Maru De Sankaku, 13 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2810 9278
If you get some perverse pleasure in joining massive queues (see also: Don Don Donki), then you may as well get a delicious bowl of freshly made noodles at the end. Bari Uma, a famous ramen chain from Hiroshima whose name translates to “super tasty,” has five branches across Hong Kong, all of which attract long, snaking lines during peak hours. There are some interesting variants—including a sour-and-spicy lemon ramen and a bowl of noodles topped with a whole lobster—but the signature is the “super-rich” pork bone broth, which is finished with tamari (たまり; dark, rich soy sauce) and complemented by rustic thick-cut chashu.