Lawson, 7-Eleven, and Family Mart aren’t holding back with their new noodles.

Many noodle fans would say that ramen is at its most pleasurable when it’s a guilty pleasure. So today, we’re tossing subtlety to the wind and diving face-first into the heaviest, most flavorful bowls of pork soy broth ramen from Japan’s big three convenience stores.

First, the participants in this three-way heavyweight fight: In the top-left corner, wearing the black bowl and hailing from convenience store chain Lawson, we the Rich Pork Soy Ramen (“Noko Butajoyu Ramen,” if you’re asking for it in Japanese). In the top-right corner, coming out of 7-Eleven and wearing a white bowl, it’s the Third-Generation Pork Ramen (Buta Ramen Sandaime). And finally, wearing the red bowl, comes Family Mart’s Rich Mashimashi Garlic Soy Ramen (Noko Mashimashi Ramen Ninnikujoyu).

All three of these culinary contenders also have celebrity trainers. Lawson’s is made in conjunction with Itto, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo’s Shin Koiwa neighborhood. 7-Eleven’s is a joint venture with Tomita, in Chiba’s Matsudo City, and the assist for Family Mart brings us back to Tokyo with the involvement of Meguro Ward’s Senrigan.

● Lawson Rich Pork Soy Ramen (598 yen [US$5.80])

Starting with Lawson’s Rich Pork Soy Ramen, this is the lightest of the bunch, though it’s still pretty filling. Having the least oiliness also lets the broth’s garlic goodness really shine through, and the thick, wavy noodles do a great job of absorbing the broth and its flavor.

Honestly, we would have liked a little more broth, but on the plus side, this is the only ramen out of the three to come with an ajitama seasoned egg.

● 7-Eleven Third-Generation Pork Ramen (594 yen)

We actually gave this one a solo taste-test of its own not too long ago, and the fact that it’s back again should tell you how happy we are with the recently updated recipe.

With more fat in the broth this is a meatier tasting bowl of noodles than Lawson’s, but it’s a little on the simple side in the topping department, with just pork, garlic, bean sprouts, and cabbage.

● Family Mart Rich Mashimashi Garlic Soy Ramen (598 yen)

And now we come to the heaviest of heavyweights, which checks in with a calorie count of 1,038 (compared to Lawson’s 733 and 7-Eleven’s 811). The Rich Mashimashi Garlic Soy Ramen has at little interest in being gentle to your taste buds as it does in being kind to your waistline, but that unbridled flavor is what makes it so great.

From the very first sip of broth, you get a massive rush of pork and garlic notes, with extra excitement coming as the sliced green onion and spicy tempura flakes join in. However, while it’s pleasing the palate, all that decadence is also going to dry out your throat, so you’ll definitely want a large glass of water or some other beverage to go with the Mashimashi Garlic Soy Ramen.

▼ Left to right: Lawson, Family Mart, and 7-Eleven

In the end, there’s no clear-cut winner between the three, as they all offer their own take on an already intensely flavorful type of ramen. If you’re picking one based on your current mood, Lawson is the lightest, Family Mart the heaviest, and 7-Eleven somewhere in the middle, but really, all three paths lead to the same place: a very happy stomach.

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