If someone asks you this question, what would be your answer?
Would you anwer tonkotsu, shoyu, or miso ramen?
First off, what is the definition of tonkotsu ramen or miso ramen? For the most part, a bowl of ramen is made by adding the sauce that is the base of the flavor into the bowl and then adding the soup, completing the dish with noodles and toppings. Tonkotsu ramen is a ramen made with tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, which means it takes the name from the soup's ingredients. Shoyu ramen on the other hand, is named after the ingredients used which is shoyu (soy sauce) flavored sauce.
Shoyu, miso, and shio ramen all are named after the ingredients of the flavor, and tonkotsu and tori paitan ramen are named after the soup. Therefore, if a shoyu flavor sauce is used with any kind of soup it will end up as shoyu ramen, and if tonkotsu soup was used it would end up as tonkotsu ramen despite any kind of sauce being used.
Shoyu ramen has variety of ingredients for its soup, including but not limited to chicken, tonkotsu, niboshi (dried sardine), dried bonito, and vegetable which all contribute to different tastes. There are tonkotsu soup based shoyu ramen filled with rich pork fat and shoyu ramen with lighter broth made only with dried sardines.
Additionally, Japan has different kinds of ramen depending on the area, thus creating the name of the ramen. If you're one of the ramen fanatics, Hakata ramen, Sapporo ramen, Kitakata ramen may ring a bell. Hakata ramen consists of tonkotsu soup with thin noodles that have low water content. Sapporo ramen is made by first grilling vegetable and ground meat in a pot, and then soup is added for a fragrant finish. Miso ramen is from Sapporo but Sapporo ramen originally came from shoyu ramen. Kitakata ramen has flat noodles with high water content which definitely gives the noodles a chewy and slurpy texture.
So back to the original question of what ramen is your favorite, can be extremely difficult to answer. Simply answering as shoyu ramen or tonkotsu ramen cannot specify what kind of ramen you're talking about. Personally I would answer as the following:
"A shoyu ramen which consists of chicken based soup with seafood dashi (broth) added from bonito and sardine flakes. Paired with noodles that are rather high in water content with chewy texture. I like to enjoy the flavor-fulness the broth of the ramen."
"A rich tonkotsu ramen without the distinct smell. I prefer thin noodles with low water content, which can be boiled soft enough to enjoy the mixture with the soup."
Such ways to describe your preference in ramen is rather specific. In other words, ramen is so complex that you have to give specific details in explaining the exact image of what you are describing.
In Japan, the amount of information on ramen surpass any other dishes. There are many ramen critics in Japan and publications related to ramen is everywhere. "Ramen Walker" is a guide book dedicated specifically to ramen. It divides Japan into 15 areas, with each area having an individual guide book that are published annually. This shows how diverse ramen can be and furthermore, how it is constantly evolving. Ramen otaku, or ramen fanatics upload the latest information on ramen via SNS or blog on a daily basis. They definitely play a vital role, as the information on ramen spreads so quickly that mainstream media like magazines and TV are not being able to keep up with it.
Ramen was able to evolve in Japan at an exceptional rate thanks to the ramen fanatics, and the movement has been spreading to rest of the world with US being no exception. When more people have deeper knowledge of ramen and more talk about it, the rate of the ramen evolving would definitely accelerate, just like the way it happened in Japan.