Thursday, January 1, 2015



Welcome to Friends in Ramen, the mad ramblings and reviews of a ramen-obsessed New Yorker who has somehow found himself in Osaka.  I've created this blog for foreigners in Osaka who want to eat good ramen, English speakers abroad who want to eat vicariously in the great east, or anyone else who wants to stop by.

I've tried to keep my ramen shop reviews in a consistent format; there's locational information along with a photo of the outside of the shop, and tags describing the style and location.  If you're looking for something particular, give it a search, or otherwise browse with pleasure!

If you're still reading this and haven't scrolled down to the wonderful pictures of rich salty broth below, here are some good places to get started on the blog:

The ramen map - a (near) exhaustive list of the ramen shops I've eaten at in Japan
The Beginning - My first post, and my entrance into Osaka
Who Writes This Thing, Anyway? - More of me talking about myself!
Ramen Glossary - A list of terms that are often used in my posts, in case ramen is new to you

Enjoy Friends in Ramen!

ラーメンの中毒があるなんとなく大阪にいちゃったニューヨーカーが書いている「Friends in Ramen」というブログにようこそ!元々外国人のためにブログを作りましたけど、日本人もラーメンが好きな外国人の意見に興味あるかなと思っていたので、日本語も書くようにしています。日本語はけっこうむずいので、ミスとかあればすみません。いろいろな店で食べたことあるので、もし「こんなスープを飲みたいな」と考えたら、タグとかで検索してください。あとは、適当に楽しんでください!


The Beginning:大阪のデビュー

Friends in Ramenを楽しみましょう!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Home, sweet home! I love Japan, and I love Osaka, but as a true New Yorker, my heart will always remain at home. Fortunately, recently that does not mean I will be deprived of ramen. The boom that took me to Totto Ramen but a couple years ago has continued, and on this occasion it brought me to Dassara in Brooklyn.

I was originally hoping to try Keizo Shimamoto's ramen burger, but it turned out to be a dinner-only item, so I stuck with the standard ramen sets. I went for the chicken ramen set that came with a pork belly sandwich. My brother went for the strange deli ramen; chicken broth with a wide range of deli toppings, including diced celery and matzoh balls.



Pork belly sandwiches, fatty, tender, and covered with a sweet barbecue-like sauce

The deli ramen was a strange concoction; matzoh balls, roast beef, and diced celery made it really taste like something out of Jewish kitchen

The Bowl
Dassara's chicken ramen was an interesting presentation; toppings in their own corners with a poached egg covered in red pepper on top. The broth itself was a light and clear chicken soup, with a good dose of pepper from the poached egg. The thick and curly noodles stood well on their own, but the broth wasn't quite thick enough to make use of their soaking power. The pork belly in the ramen was, like the sandwich, well spiced, juicy and delicious.


Would I Go Again?
Yeah; I still need to try the ramen burger.


Should You Go?
Yeah, it's a good place in New York.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It was December, and I had just a few days left before I was going home to New York for the holidays. What should my last bowl of ramen be? I had passed by Umeda's Tsuboya a couple times, and I was intrigued by the winter-only miso ramen. I've been disappointed with Tsuboya's other branches, but I love miso, so I gave in to my instinct and gave it a try.


The Bowl
Ah, miso ramen. It's so rare in Osaka that I'll take any chance I get to have some. Tsuboya's miso's broth was pretty oily, but it was tasty, and did not hold back on the spice. I wasn't crying, but there was definitely a peppery kick. The thick noodles wrapped around the mounds of bean sprouts in the bowl, and the chewy if low on flavor chashu.


Would I Go Again?
Yeah, for another limited time ramen.


Should You Go?
I would say if you go, get ramen instead of tsukemen.


つけ麺処 つぼや

Friday, April 11, 2014

T's Tantan

Day two of my end of year visit to Tokyo, which means it's time for my second bowl of ramen. My vegetarian friend recently moved to Tokyo, and compared to Osaka, it's veggie heaven. There's even, as we discovered, a vegan ramen shop. Located inside Tokyo Station (but outside of the illustrious Tokyo Ramen Street), T's Tantan specializes in tantanmen. Vegan and spicy? Yes please. I got a set with a side of fake-chicken karaage.

年末の東京の遊びの二日目なのでラーメンの二杯目を食べることになります。最近大阪に住んでいたベジタリアン友達が東京に引っ越ししました。関西に比べると、東京にはベジタライアンレストランがめちゃくちゃ多いです。東京駅の中にある「T's たんたん」は動物系を使わない担々麺専門店です。ビーがんと辛いのでめっちゃ食べたくなりました。白たんたん+(にせものの)ミニから揚げ丼にしました。

The fake chicken was pretty good; it didn't taste like chicken, nor should it. 

The Bowl
A thin, sesame, yet very spicy, broth. The noodles were thin, and curly. If I didn't know any better, I would not have guessed there was no meat in this bowl. In fact, in place of the ground pork, there was ground fake-pork. It was pretty good, and went well with the mountains of sprouts inhabiting the soup. This wasn't just some of the best vegetarian food I've had in a while, it was among the best ramen I've had in a while.


Would I Go Again?
Yes, it's different and delicious.


Should You Go?



Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I love Osaka, but a couple of times a year I have to make a journey back to my first home in Japan, Tokyo. Usually I visit friends, see a baseball game, and eat well. A couple times I have gone on crazy long walks. Like my walk to Nara before, this was a train line-based challenge: walk the entire Hibiya line.


The beginning: Kita-Senju Station

Some beautiful foliage on the way

This is a serious problem in Japan

Finally, Naka-meguro Station!

No epic journey is complete without equally epic ramen. On my friend's recommendation we stopped at Akihabara's Tsumugi. They are known for their ramen noodles that are made out of sanuki flour, the elastic ingredient that gives Kagawa's famous udon its bounce. They offered a sweet and spicy special ramen, but I went for the standard shoyu.


The Bowl
The shoyu was a pretty standard if tasty broth, and the chashu was enjoyable but nothing out of the ordinary. As you'd expect, the real strength of this bowl was in the noodles. They were long and firm, but easy to slurp and full of the characteristic udon stretchiness. Whereas udon are normally extra thick, these were a bit thinner, giving them a unique feel, especially with a broth totally different from the kind you'd see at an udon restaurant. It may sound like a gimmick, but if it is it's a gimmick that works.


Would I Go Again?
If I'm back in Tokyo, there's too many other places to try.


Should You Go?
If you're in Tokyo, hit this place up.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Osaka Ramen Expo

The Osaka Ramen Expo! What an exciting time. I saw an advertisement for this back when I ate at Fusuma ni Kakero, and since then I had all but decided I would go. Just for a few days up in Banpaku Park, I only had one real chance to go, and so I left work early to meet with a friend and take the long ride up north.


I reserved my ticket, saving me a whopping 50 yen!

After an in-depth study of the situation, I decided that I wanted to try the miso katsu ramen by Kochi-based Menya Nakahira. My favorite kind of ramen paired with one of my favorite kinds of fried meat? Yes, please.


The Bowl
A bowl of miso with a big chunk of tonkatsu in it. I kind of thought there would be more unity, something that made the two go together other than being two fatty, delicious things. But no. Not that it really needed it; it was a fine bowl of miso, with curly flat noodles, and a decent flank of fried pork.


I wasn't sure how hungry I'd be after one bowl, but the other miso bowl, a one time only triple threat creation by the chefs at Kyoto shop Takai and Osaka shops Junk Story and Fusuma ni Kakero seemed like it had to be eaten.

一杯を飲んでからお腹いっぱいかなと思っていましたけど、珍しい「たか井」「JUNK STORY」「麸にかけろ」のチェフをコラボして作った味噌ラーメンを食べないとだめかなと思っていました。

Alas! Sold out! I should have gotten that one first. Oh well, with a belly full of miso and katsu I wasn't super hungry anyway, so I picked a lighter bowl: tori paitan ramen from Ramen Hajime in Tokyo.


The Bowl
This bowl was very chicken, and very salty. It was like a light chicken soup, as I had hoped, but the even the noodles were coated in sodium and kept me from eating the whole thing. The bits of chicken in the broth tasted like they had been pulled right off a yakitori skewer into the bowl, and while I enjoyed it, this was a bowl better had in mini quantity.


Of course no Japanese winter event would be complete without projecting an image on some building or object. Here we have the famous Tower of the Sun with red and yellow covering it from head to...stand?



Thursday, April 3, 2014


One of the great things about being in the ramen-eating business is that new shops are springing up all the time. One of the unfortunate things, is that shops are closing, too. It's all too often that a shop closes, and its place a new one is born. This time the sad closing of Mendokoro Ishin has brought forth equally strange Saina. Saina's dish is the Tamagotoji Ramen, or egg soup ramen. I'd never heard of anything like this before, so I prepared my tongue and ordered it.

ラーメンが好きな人にはよく新しい店ができるのが便利です。でも、同じように店がよく潰れます。同じ場所で一つの店が潰れて、次の月に新しい店ができるのが珍しくないです。今回昔に行った麺処 維新がつぶれて彩七が開店しました。彩七の名物は玉子とじラーメン。そんなラーメンを聞いたことなかったので、食べてみました。

All you could eat mustard greens on the side.
The Bowl
Technically, this was shoyu ramen, but I would never have guessed it just by tasting it. The broth was thin and eggy, more similar to soup you'd get at a Chinese restaurant as an appetizer than something you'd find in a ramen shop. The springy, yellow noodles drifted below the surface of the broth, though the soup was so light that the noodles didn't pick up much of the flavor. In addition to the many strips of egg, the soup was filled with chashu, menma, onions, and nori.


Would I Go Again?
I give them credit for being different, but it didn't quite come together in the end. I won't be back.


Should You Go?