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A bowl of Hakata ramen against a black background.
A bowl of Hakata ramen against a black background.

Hakata Ramen and Other Noodle Dishes to Try This Summer!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
Published Time
Posted on July 04, 2024

Noodles are popular in Japan because they can be prepared quickly and easily, and some types can be served cold. These summer noodles can also satisfy your taste buds and bring cultural richness to your table. Let’s check out the best five must-try dishes this summer together, including Hakata ramen!

Hakata ramen

Hakata ramen is a delicious variety of Japanese ramen that comes from Fukuoka, a city located in the southern part of Japan. This special ramen has gained popularity not just in Japan but all over the world. The most notable feature of Hakata ramen is its rich and creamy broth made from boiling pork bones.

The name Hakata refers to a bustling district in Fukuoka City. This dish started as a simple meal for busy fishermen and market vendors in the Hakata district who needed something quick and tasty. The first established Hakata ramen shop, called Hakuryuken, began serving its delightful ramen in 1952 and continues to do so today.

A bowl of Hakata ramen.
Hakata ramen is a type of tonkotsu ramen. Image via Shutterstock

Hakata ramen stands out because of its thin, straight noodles that you can order in different levels of firmness. You can choose barikata (extra firm) or bariyawa (extra soft), depending on how you like your noodles.

This ramen is typically served with simple toppings, including green onions and slices of char siu (roasted pork). However, you can also add extras such as a boiled egg, menma (seasoned bamboo shoots), kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), and beni shoga (pickled ginger).

Hiyashi chuka

Hiyashi chuka (chilled Chinese) is a refreshing Japanese ramen ideal for scorching summer days. The noodles are served cold and topped with colorful ingredients, making them visually stunning and tasty. This ramen used to be called chuka soba (Chinese soba). Today, you can find hiyashi chuka in many ramen shops across Japan, especially in Kansai and Hokkaido, where it’s sometimes called reimen or hiyashi ramen.

A plate of hiyashi chuka which has meat and other vegetables.
HIyashi chuka features ham and vegetables. Image via Shutterstock

The toppings are what make hiyashi chuka so unique. Typical toppings include strips of ham, tamagoyaki (sweet egg omelet), tomatoes, and cucumbers. Some people also like to add crab meat or steamed chicken for extra protein.

You can freely get creative with the toppings and add your favorites. To combine all the flavors, a delicious soy sauce dressing, sometimes with sesame hints, is poured over everything. The noodles are chewy and refreshing, and the dressing is tangy and savory, giving each bite a -flavor.

Chilled tanuki udon

Tanuki udon traditionally features chewy noodles in a flavorful broth with crispy tenkasu (tempura flakes). The name tanuki refers to these tempura bits, not the animal (raccoon), giving the dish a playful and quirky name. During the summer, this dish transforms into hiyashi tanuki udon (chilled Tanuki Udon), where the noodles are served cold.

A bowl of chilled tanuki soba.
The main feature of tanuki soba is the tempura flakes. Image via Shutterstock

Chilled tanuki udon is famous for its calm and soothing appeal. The toppings here are versatile and refreshing, like cucumbers, wakame seaweed, soft-boiled eggs, and tenkasu, all enhanced by a savory mentsuyu sauce. This combination of textures and flavors—crunchy, chewy, and umami-rich—makes it a favorite during Japan’s humid summers.

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Zaru soba

Zaru soba (chilled soba noodles) is a simple yet flavorful summer dish. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, giving them a distinctive texture and nutty flavor. Zaru soba is not only yummy but also considered healthy, as buckwheat flour is gluten-free and packed with nutrients such as Vitamin B and fiber. The name zaru comes from the bamboo strainer traditionally used to drain the noodles during the Edo Period (1603-1868). 

A plate of zaru soba.
Zaru soba is especially refreshing after a hot day. Image via Shutterstock

After boiling, the soba noodles are chilled and served on the zaru with a dipping sauce called tsuyu. The tsuyu is an umami broth made from dashi (soup stock), soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), and a bit of sugar. Furthermore, it’s also common to customize the dipping sauce with toppings like chopped scallions, shredded nori seaweed, grated daikon radish, or fresh wasabi for an added kick. 

Morioka reimen 

Morioka reimen is a beloved noodle dish from Morioka City in Iwate Prefecture. It has a fascinating history influenced by Korean culinary traditions. Introduced to Japan by Korean immigrants in the 1950s, Morioka reimen is a variation of naengmyeon, a Korean cold noodle dish. It quickly became popular locally and later nationally during Japan’s culinary boom in the 1980s. It’s celebrated as one of Morioka’s top three noodles, alongside Jajamen and Wanko Soba.

A bowl of Morioka reimen which includes fresh tomato and lemon. It's a popular summer noodle dish like Hakata ramen.
Morioka ramen usually features fruit. Image via Shutterstock

Unlike its Korean counterparts, Morioka reimen uses noodles made from a combination of wheat flour and starch, giving them a unique, chewy texture. Additionally, its flavorful broth is made from beef and chicken stock. This refreshing soup base is also complemented by spicy kimchi. Toppings often include a boiled egg, cucumbers, slices of beef or pork, and even seasonal fruits like watermelons or apples. 

Why should I try dishes like Hakata ramen this summer?

These dishes offer a variety of flavors and textures that are perfect for hot days. From the rich and creamy broth of Hakata ramen to the refreshing tanginess of hiyashi chuka’s soy sauce dressing, each one brings a unique taste experience. Each type of noodle carries a rich cultural beauty in cuisine, ensuring nutritious benefits for those who enjoy it. Have you tried any of these dishes before? Leave a comment and let us know your favorite!

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