A decided sense of the unique is par for course with the ramen of Japan's Chugoku region. With chicken flavours in Okayama prefecture, rare beef broths in Tottori, light salt flavours of Shimane and happy dollops of fat in Hiroshima, each prefecture seems to be in competition with each other to see who has the most unique style of ramen. Here is a simple introduction to just some of the ramen of Chugoku.
Kasaoka ramen, Okayama
A chicken lover's delight, Okayama prefecture's kasaoka ramen features a thin soy sauce-based broth flavoured with chicken stock that goes one step further. Instead of the usual slices of chashu pork toppings, Okayama's signature ramen see pieces of chicken used instead. A serving of straight noodles of medium thickness completes the meal.
Gyukotsu ramen, Tottori
Tottori prefecture is one of the very few prefectures where beef ramen is properly popular. Known as gyukotsu ramen, this unique dish is a soy sauce-based broth flavoured with beef bone stock. Along with its noodles that tend to the light and thin, this ramen turns out to be surprisingly much lighter than expected with even a hint of sweetness to its flavour.
Matsue ramen, Shimane
Matsue ramen from Shimane prefecture features curly noodles that are usually medium thick and served in a light salt-based broth. There is little fat in Matsue ramen leaving it somewhat gentle in depth. Often flavoured with pork and chicken bones, the region's famous shijimi clams also sees them as a popular flavouring choice.
Onomichi ramen, Hiroshima
Courtesy of generous amounts of pork back fat, Onomichi ramen from Hiroshima prefecture features a relatively thicker soy sauce-based broth flavoured with pork, seafood or chicken stocks. Competing with the dollops of fat floating in the broth are the medium thick noodles that are usually flatter than usual.