Literally “pork bone” broth, this rich, creamy style originated on the island of Kyushu, famous for its piggies. A bowl made with tonkotsu broth is usually called Hakata ramen, named for a noodle-tastic neighborhood in Kyushu’s largest city, Fukuoka.
Try it at Ramen Wasabi (2101 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square). While excellent versions abound, the bowl here earns its richness with a deep and porky broth. $14
A specialty of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, this miso-seasoned winter rib-sticker typically has ground pork and loads of bean sprouts and shredded veggies.
Try it at Ramen Misoya (1584 Busse Rd., Mount Prospect). You can choose from three regional styles: Hokkaido (rich, savory), Tokyo (light, sweet), and Ise (deep, funky). You know you want the OG. $10.90
The name means “salt,” and this is the lightest and clearest of the three main broth styles (the other two being miso and shoyu). The basic chicken soup of ramen, it’s often prepared with a salty seasoning called tare that can be savory with dried seafood or bright with citrus juice or hot pepper (or both).
Try it at Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya (1482 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park). The yuzu shio ramen here is sunny and sharp. $13.80
The word means “white soup,” and it technically refers to any broth, like tonkotsu, that is cloudy with fat and collagen from long-boiled bones. But most often, it refers to broths made with chicken — all the richness, none of the pig.
Try it at Ramen Takeya (819 W. Fulton Market, West Loop). Its version is like the white chocolate of the bunch: creamy and gentle. $14
This soy-sauce-based broth style can vary from gentle and sweet to dark and sardine-broth fishy. A lot of the more modern styles technically fall into this bucket.
Try it at Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai (1129 N. Roselle Rd., Hoffman Estates). The textbook shoyu broth highlights the terrific “hand crumpled” housemade noodles. $11.40
This style references a specific Chinese specialty: Sichuan dan dan noodles. Typically red and oily, tantanmen contains black bean chile oil, sesame paste, and ground pork — think of it as the Sloppy Joe of ramen.
Try it at Aodake Ramen (21 W. Calendar Ave., La Grange). This spot serves both the traditional (wickedly spicy and rich) as well as a vegan version made with cabbage, kale noodles, and enough creamy sesame to give its broth body. $13 ($12 for vegan)
This subspecialty, a.k.a. “dipping ramen,” has become a major thing in Japan and L.A. Thick noodles and toppings come alongside a separate bowl of deeply concentrated, salty broth, which works as a dip. (If you want to drink it at the end, add hot water.)
Try it at Chicago Ramen (578 E. Oakton St., Des Plaines). It’s the house specialty; the broth is so thick it almost jiggles. $10.95