A Guide to Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen is a type of ramen that is made with pork bone broth. It originated in Japan and remains popular throughout the country today. It gets its name from the word tonkotsu, which means pork bone in Japanese. While tonkotsu ramen originated in Japan, it has also become very popular throughout the rest of the world, especially in other parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. This type of ramen offers many different varieties to choose from and can be prepared with either curly or straight noodles depending on your personal preference.

1. What is Tonkotsu Ramen?

Traditional tonkotsu ramen consists of a bowl of noodles served in a meat-based broth. The broth is made by boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for several hours. This process produces a very rich and creamy texture. Japanese tonkotsu ramen also includes toppings such as slices of braised pork belly (or chāshū), bean sprouts (or menma), nori seaweed sheets (or kaiware), onions, and fish cake. 

What does Tonkotsu Ramen taste like?

It’s flavour can range from creamy, fatty and rich to savoury and meaty. 

2. How to Make Tonkotsu Ramen

While there is no single recipe for tonkotsu ramen, each restaurant has its own spin on it. To make tonkotsu ramen, you need a base of pork bones that have been simmered in water with soy sauce and other seasonings. The dish is then topped with thin slices of chashu, green onions, and moyashi (bean sprouts). Many restaurants also serve a slice of marinated soft boiled egg on top or nitamago egg—another ingredient unique to Japanese-style ramen. 

What kind of pork to use for Tonkotsu ramen

The tonkotsu broth is typically made with pork bones— 'ton' literally means pork and 'kotsu' bones. More specifically, it’s made from trotters (feet) and tails. These parts of a pig are full of collagen and fat that yields a rich stock. It is normally served with Chashu which is made using slices of pork belly.

Why is the broth white?

Since the broth is simmered for hours it becomes white from the collagen and fat in the pork bones.

Is Tonkotsu Ramen spicy?

Tonkotsu ramen isn't known for it's spicy nature, but it can be made spiy with the addition of chilli bean paste or chilli oil. Each resteraunt and recipe for tonkostu ramen is slightly different so look at the ingredients to see if there are any spicy additions.

Learn more about how to make Tonkotsu Ramen in our Simple Recipe.

3. How is Tonkotso Ramen Different?

Tonkotso ramen is slightly different from other types of ramen as it isn't a type of tare like miso or shoyu, but it is instead a type of broth.

Shoyu Ramen vs Tonkotsu Ramen

Shoyu ramen is made with a soy sauce flavouring whereas tonkotsu broth is flavoured with pork bone - so shoyu has a much saltier taste profile whereas tonkotsu is much richer. Tonkotsu is also considered to be much heavier and more filling when compred to shoyu which has a lighter broth. Tonkostu ramen is also a style of ramen that has become popular whereas shoyu ramen is a flavour of ramen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a difference between tonkotsu and tonkatsu?

Whilst both similar in pronounication tonkotsu and tonkatsu are different dishes. Since 'ton' means pork in Japanese it is easy to confused the two! Tonkotsu refers to the type of ramen whereas tonkatsu is a type of breaded deep fried pork cutlet. 

What is tonkatsu sauce?

Tonkatsu is different to tonkotsu ramen is a type of sauce that is served with tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets). It is a tart, savoury and sweet sauce made from a mixture of fruits and veg, soy sauce and vinegar. 

Feeling Inspired? Check out our recipe for Tonkotsu ramen or see our full selection of ramen ingredients.


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