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, September 13, 2014

Mitsubosi Seimenjo

One of the oft-talked about ramen shops in Osaka is Mitsuboshi Seimenjo, a rare gyokai shoyu ramen in Fukushima. I visited there a while ago and realized that the shop lived up to the hype; it had a rich creaminess that you don't see often in tsukemen, let alone ramen. Since then, they have opened a second shop in Nishinakajima, and just recently a tsukemen shop in Awaza. I needed to see how their tsukemen compared to the ramen, so I checked it out.


The Bowl
The soup was written to have been cooked with pork, vegetables, and chicken, and the tare was made with scallops and fish. I couldn't pick apart each of these ingredients individually when tasting the soup, but the thick, gyokai flavors mixed together in a heavenly way. There was a choice of medium-thick and super-thick noodles, and the super-thick I went for were square and firm, holding their form after several dips. The toppings stood tall as well, a very creamy egg, thick, and juicy kakuni, and the unusual addition of a lemon that added a refreshing sourness to the concoction.


Would I Go Again?
The tsukemen was good, but not as mindblowing as the ramen. I might check it out again.


Should You Go?
If you're in the area, it's definitely a solid shop, but I would check out the ramen shop in Fukushima first.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Shinmachi Ramen

My trip to Nagasaki had sadly come to an end, so it was back to trying local ramen joints in Osaka. One small place not too far from where I live is Shinmachi Ramen, named after its quiet neighborhood, Shinmachi. They had a variety of ramen, without one particular specialty, but they advised me as someone who likes spice to go for the spicy miso Heisei Ramen.


The Bowl
Shinmachi Ramen presented a thin, light, brown miso. It wasn't full of the deeper flavors you'd get in a thicker broth, but there was a subtle taste to it, and a fair bit of spice. The thin noodles matched the broth; any thicker and they would have had trouble taking it all in. The chashu and other toppings were decent but did not stand out against the spicy miso.


Would I Go Again?
It was alright, but I have new places to try.


Should You Go?
Maybe if you live nearby, otherwise nah.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Menya Always

After my first day in Nagasaki eating its famous chanpon, my friends and I explored the city and tried various foods that it offered.


Sakamoto Ryoma
 Spectacle Bridge
 Sakamoto Ryoma and Thomas Glover, in coffee form
Sasebo burger
 Turkish Rice
 The mining island that looks like battleship, Gunkanjima
Nagasaki's famous creamy milkshake

But in the end, of course, I had to try some proper ramen. Last year, I made an appearance on Japanese morning show Shittoko. Two other foreigners appeared with me advocating ramen in Japan, and the one living in Nagasaki introduced tonkotsu shop Menya Always.

Menya Always has a variety of rich pork ramen, but the strange and unique item that stood out was the lemon tonkotsu ramen, which is what I ordered.

最後にやっぱりラーメンを食べたくなってきました。去年に土曜日の朝番組の「知っとこ」で出ました。一緒に出たラーメンが好きな外国人が二人いて、長崎に住んでいた一に紹介してもらった「麺也 オールウェイズ」に行ってみました。


The Bowl
What would have been a heavy porky mixture was made much lighter by the several lemon slices placed on the surface of the ramen. It seems like a strange combination, but citrus has worked well with ramen before, and I was surprised just how much the addition could turn a rich bowl into a light and drinkable one. The loads of onions on top added a bit of a sharpness to it. The noodles and chashu were by-the-numbers Hakata style, which means thin and firm for the noodles, and tender for the slice of pork.


Would I Go Again?
Yes, this was strange and delicious.


Should You Go?


麺也 オールウェイズ

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Nagasaki! This year's Vernal Equinox Day meant a trip on the night bus to my second prefecture in Kyushu. Nagasaki is close enough to Fukuoka to mean there's good tonkotsu ramen around, but as any Japanese person knows, Nagasaki's famous dish is not ramen, but chanpon.

Chanpon is a gelatinous pork and seafood soup, filled with all sorts of vegetables. As compared to ramen, you might even say the toppings get the spotlight in chanpon; chanpon restaurants will often advertise just how much vegetables or seafood is floating in their bowl.

My initial thought was to head to the most famous and claimed inventor of chanpon, Shikairo, but a friend I met in the area dissuaded me and instead took us to local shop Tentenyu, strangely with the same name as a Kyoto ramen chain. I went for the special chanpon, which contained all of the toppings that were available.




The Bowl
This is truly a different beast from the ramen I'm used to. The soup fell onto my spoon on molasses-like drops; a slightly sweet if very fishy gelatinous mixture. As if not to be topped, the noodles themselves were thick, round and firm. It's impossible to go for a scoop of noodles without running into the myriad toppings: squid, shrimp, cabbage, oyster, carrots, onions, and more I didn't stop to glance at before I put them in my mouth. The variety within a single bowl was welcome, but towards the end as the toppings ran out, the concoction's overwhelming fishy taste took over.


Would I Go Again?
It was good, but next time I visit Nagasaki I have to try another location for variety's sake.


Should You Go?
Yeah, this was solid.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Men no Kuni

Miso ramen? In Osaka? Count me in! At the beginning of March, Men no Kuni, a new gem in Nipponbashi opened up. Miso ramen is rare in Kansai, let alone just in Osaka city, so it took me no longer than a couple weeks to find my way over there. Among their various miso options I chose the "Golden Male Spirit Ramen", which means it had an egg and a huge chunk of stewed pork instead of the normal slices of chashu.


The Bowl
This wasn't a creamy miso like some of the fancier kinds I've had before, but an oily, hot, people's miso, orange and dotted with black points of charred garlic oil. As any good miso should, it was filled with thick and curly noodles, that swept up a swarm of sprouts, onions, and other veggies. And on top was the enormous if overpowering slab of stewed pork, making meal fuller and ensuring that I wouldn't be able to move afterwards.


Would I Go Again?
I'd like to; you don't find miso very much around these parts.


Should You Go?
If you're from out of town you can probably find better, but if you want miso in Osaka, this isn't a bad place to get it.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Menta Jisuta

Out with the old and in with the new. A few months ago, Nakamuraya shut down, and in its place came Menta Jisuta, the third branch of the Jisuta family. The last time I went to a branch, I ordered the strange maze men so this time I went with the menta soba, a standard chuka soba with wontons.


The Bowl
The clear if oily shoyu that Menta Jisuta offered was about what I needed on a cold February afternoon. The broth was filled with green onions, giving it a crisp flavor that could be soaked up by the yellow, elastic noodles. The toppings were the strong point though, with a thick-skinned flavorful wonton and a firm but tasty egg.


Would I Go Again?
Overall I enjoyed the ramen, but I don't see a reason to go again.


Should You Go?
I would recommend trying wackier Menkuimen Tsujita Danieru no Bai over this.

ここよりもっと変わっている「麺喰いメン太ジスタ だにえるの場合。」に行ったらおすすめです。