Ramen Broth - Is It All a Sham?

An interesting post from Humgry Onion. Are all those ramen restaurants with “pork bone cooked for twenty hour” lying to us?


I’ve tried some of these prepackaged broths; they’re pretty darn good.

I suppose peeking into the kitchen for evidence is a workaround to verify their claims.


Any brands stand out? I imagine there’s some great ones out there, but didn’t think much of the Wakou broth I had.

I’m curious whether places like Santouka use these bases. Or chains, like Daikokuya or Tentenyu.

The food chemistry of tonkotsu broth has been well-worked out.

Here is a clickable link to a Japanese video, subtitled in Chinese (sorry folks, that’s the best I can do) about laboratory-style replication of said broth.

Packaged ramen broth, when refrigerated, will not seize up into a large gelatin mold.

For what it’s worth, Wakou’s tonkotsu base is mostly pork.

Unless you add gelatin granules or agar to the broth.

But it WILL “gel,” won’t it?

But I don’t like ramen noodles with my Jell-O.

Weird, I know. Must be a guy thing.

Here is another major supplier to California ramen restaurants:

I think they supply the Tatsunoya chain. Here is evidence of them using it at RamenFest in SF in an old CH thread:

Interesting excerpt: “I also noticed a giant squeeze bottle with a white solid in it. Then it went into the boiling water to melt. I called out to the Tatsunoya guy to ask what it was. He said, “Oil”. I followed up with, “Pig fat?” And he said, “Yes”. Later I saw him refilling from a box of lard labeled as 0 grams transfats per serving. It was squeezed into each bowl.”

Sounds like the “Seasoned Pork Fat” available on the website.

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It could have been just a box of rendered lard from Costco.

Wow…that’s the same box as in the picture.

I believe it’s decent-quality non-hydrogenated lard, probably as good as you’re going to get if you don’t render it yourself or buy it from a butcher who does.

On a related note, I wonder if hot pot places just buy packaged broths. I spoke to one server in the South Bay who told me they use Little Sheep Brands for their hot pot and some grilled items. Shaokao/skewer restaurants here all seem to use the same brand of spices (msg, cumin, chili; occasionally seasoned with lighter fluid)

A Goldthread video shows how one chain in Chengdu makes their broth.

Unfortunately I don’t recollect which specific brands they were.

Interesting! The cultural valuation placed on Japanese food vs Vietnamese food aside, this is More ammo for my argument with friends that pho prices should be on par with ramen, yet it’s typically $3-5 cheaper and often comes with more proteins and similarly cooked for lengthy periods of time.


Interesting point, having cooked pho myself I have to concede it’s a PITA!!! Toasting/roasting the herbs/spices, prepping the bones and then constantly skimming the stock at low heat.

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This isn’t pho but the Vietnamese soup bon bo hue and, yes, loaded with everything.