Tonkotsu ramen is one of Japan’s best loved varieties of the soupy, noodley dish. But since the broth is made by boiling pork bones, it’s not just a case of removing the meat toppings to make it suitable for non-meat eaters.

There’s plenty of people who avoid tonkotsu for various reasons such as veganism, vegetarianism, religious beliefs or environmental worries, and if these people want to experience the joys of this ramen, the whole recipe will have to be reformulated.

Well that’s exactly what one of Japan’s top ramen chains have done. Ippudo, which started in Hakata, famous for tonkotsu ramen, have cooked up a whole new recipe which is entirely plant based. It’s based on their ‘Akamaru’ menu item, which is one of their classics.

The rich and creamy soup is particularly hard to recreate, but Ippudo claim to have managed it with the help of a new type of ‘miracore’ soy milk which is especially thick and creamy. Seaweed soup stock and porcini mushrooms have been added to make a meat-like flavour.

The noodles themselves have been made without eggs, and compared to their usual noodles the new variation contains more fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Tonkotsu wouldn’t be complete without the juicy char siu pork belly topping, and Ippudo’s plant-based imitation has been created using bean paste and wheat protein.

Extra flavour and extra decoration is achieved through a heady mix of various mushrooms, garlic oil, extra virgin olive oil, green onion and bean sprouts. Ippudo’s ‘Akamaru’ wouldn’t be complete without some miso sauce, and the original miso is included in this plant-based option.

Vegan food can often be a bit pricey, but this ramen comes in at quite an affordable 1100 yen. Sadly, the launch is a tentative try-out with the dish appearing for just a limited time at 45 Ippudo locations listed below, from 1st February 2021.

Fukuoka: Daimyo Honten, Shiobaru Honpo, Sanno, Nishidori

Gunma: Takasaki

Saitama: Kawagoe Inter

Chiba: Lalaport Tokyo Bay, Takeishi Inter

Tokyo: Ebisu, Komazawa Park, Ikebukuro (from 5th February), Machida, Shinjuku Island Tower, Asakusa Rox 3G, Lumine Est Shinjuku, Gotanda East Exit, Hamamatsucho Stand, Sereo Hachioji

Kanagawa: Minato Mirai Tokyu Square, Shonan Seaside, Yokohama West Exit, Cross Garden Kawasaki, Honatsugi Mylord East, Lusca Chigasaki

Miyagi: Sendai Aobadori, Sendai East Exit

Niigata: Niigata

Toyama: Toyama

Ishikawa: Kanazawa Korinbo

Nagano: Suwa Inter

Aichi: Nagoya Honten, Nagoya Sakae Blossa, Kariya

Osaka: Nagahori, Horie, Ikeda, Minoh, Abeno Nini

Hyogo: Nishinomiya North Exit, Himeji, Sannomiya

Okayama: Kurashiki

Hiroshima: Hiroshima Fukuromachi, Fukuyama

Ehime: Matsuyama

By - Jess.