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!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Despite the fact that I had a filling bowl of tsukemen earlier in the day, I found myself in Osaka at night and hungry. It was pretty late, and although usually I would prefer takoyaki at times like this, there was a new hot late night ramen shop I wanted to try.

Shi43ya (pronounced Shijimiya) is named after shijimi, a shellfish featured in their main shijimi shio ramen.  It's hidden in an alley by a bunch of bars, so it's hard to notice. I was tempted to go for the shijimi miso ramen, but for my first time I had to stick with the classic shio.



The Bowl
This was shio ramen at its simplest, yet with the unusual twist of a bunch of clams thrown into the mix. The broth itself very light, salty, and clear; kind of like a thin clam soup, as opposed to some of the richer shios I've had before. I would generally prefer something a bit deeper, but for late night post (or mid) drinking, the simple soup, chewy noodles, and clams are a refreshing way to hopefully keep that hangover away.


Would I Go Again?
Yeah maybe, if the conditions were just right.


Should You Go?
If you like late night shio, this place is for you.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Tsukemen Man

As a continuation of cherry blossom season, I took an all-too-rare visit to Kyoto to go to another hanami event. With an opportunity like that, though, I decided I needed to stop and get a bowl of ramen on my way there. Nearby Demachiyanagi there's not a ton of shops; but there is one I've had my eye on: Tsukemen Man. They embraced their name and offered up a specially made rich gyokai tonkotsu tsukemen.


The Bowl
The broth was a mostly by-the-numbers thick gyokai mix; though it was a bit too rich and salty. The noodles made up for that as they were thick and shiny, easy to pick up yet resilient enough to take in a lot of soup and add a light egg flavor of their own. The chashu was good, though like the soup too, a bit salty, and over time it became harder to finish the bowl.


Would I Go Again?
I'll try another place in Kyoto next time I'm there.


Should You Go?
If you want some tuskemen in Demachiyanagi, otherwise go somewhere else.



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mensho Keiji

Spring is the time for cherry blossoms. Everyone in Japan loosens up, grabs some beer or umeshu at a convenience store, and brings it to the park to sit under the trees and relax. The only thing more enjoyable than this, is making sure you have a full stomach to take it all in. With that in mind my friend and I headed to Menya Keiji, a shop by Osaka Business Park, not far from Osaka Castle.

Menya Keiji had a variety of tonkotsu and gyokai tonkotsu bowls; they ranked them by their popularity among guys and girls. The gyokai tonkotsu ramen looked the most interesting to me, so I ordered that one, which was the #1 ramen picked by girls.



The complimentary appetizer
The Bowl
The broth started out as a good mix of deep tonkotsu flavors and a balancing gyokai soup. It was a good combination that's seen much more often in tsukemen, so I was happy to have this in ramen, even if the thick, wavy noodles would have been more suited to a thick tsukemen broth. The main issue creating a ceiling for this ramen, though, was the salt content. What started out as a tinge of salt underneath the double soup slowly crept up and by the end prevented me from drinking any more of the broth. I'm glad I was on my way to get some drinks afterwards, because it was tough to wash my mouth out of all that sodium.


Would I Go Again?
I don't plan on it.


Should You Go?
It's alright, and it's one of the only shops in the area, so it's passable if you're at Osaka Business Park.


麺匠 慶次

Monday, September 29, 2014


Kitashinchi is an interesting area of Osaka. Like Fukushima and Tenma, it's right next to Umeda, but has a lot more character. Kitashinchi is full of bars, some cheap, and many expensive. And though it's not known for ramen, it's Japan, so there will always be some. On this night I visited with my friend, and we wandered into random tonkotsu shoyu shop Ippondo.


The Bowl
The oily broth was a sea of solidified pork fat. It had a salty, garlicky edge, but overall it was weak and nothing better than I'd expect from a random mediocre shop. The medium noodles were a bit different from what you'd sometimes see with this kind of a soup, but they were overcooked. The toppings saved the bowl. The marinated chashu tasted deep of the soy sauce it was left to soak in, and the viscously creamy yolked egg was delicious.


Would I Go Again?
Nah, aside from the toppings nothing stood out in this place.


Should You Go?
You can skip this one.


麺匠 一本道

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Time for another famous Osaka institution. Sodaisho, which is actually a sister shop to beloved Shiogensui, is a salty shoyu shop near Tenjinbashi Rokuchome. I visited there once shortly after arriving in Osaka, but I had not yet started writing this blog, so I didn't have an opportunity to take notes and post about it.

My last memories of Sodaisho was that it was absurdly salty, in such a way that it washed out the other weaker flavors. Curious to see what my now more refined palette feels about it now, I visited one more time and ordered the koikuchi shoyu ramen.



The Bowl
A taste of the shoyu broth reminded me of my first experience years ago; it was a hot and thin broth, but brimming with salty, garlic, onion, and oil. It didn't have the deep flavors of a black Takaida-kei shoyu ramen, but was more like a bowl that took the salty, garlicky tinge of a clear shoyu bowl to its extreme. The noodles and chashu matched as well; not very different from what you'd see in a run-of-the-mill shoyu, but covered in sodium and oil. The one element that helped bring the bowl back down were these bits of yuzu floating in the mess. I wish they had used more, but then again, that's not what the koikuchi shoyu ramen is about.


Would I Go Again?
I think I'm good on this one.


Should You Go?
For clear shoyu fans who don't mind a night of high blood pressure, this is a good one.



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.