Sunday, January 1, 2017



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!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mario Ryu Ramen

Recently I've had the chance to visit some ramen shops in Nara. Most shops in Nara are all but inaccessible without a car, and even with a car you're in for a bit of a drive and an even longer line. After my previous trip that involved some serious hardcore tonkotsu, my friends and I went for round two at famous kotteri shop Mario Ryu Ramen.


Mario Ryu rates its ramen on a richness scale from one to ten, but of course that doesn't stop them from blowing the lid off the limit and making bowls that have upwards of 25 richness.


I went for the solidly rich 桜島, or sakurajima, a pork ramen with bonito powder and a bit of chili pepper, that weighed in at a richness of seven.


The three bowls. Are they solid or liquid?

The Bowl
This was really no joke. The soup was a murky swamp of salt and pork back fat. The chili provided a bit of spice, and there was a touch of ginger in there as well. I could only take a few spoonfuls of it, but mixing the bonito powder in made it much more tolerable. The noodles, on the other hand, were fat, providing a clean conveyer of the salty sauce. The slices of chashu too were quite large, and managed to contain a much better balance than taking on the broth on its own.


Would I Go Again?
It was very good, but I have to make sure not to eat for a couple days before I go there again. But it's far.


Should You Go?
Anyone with means and an iron stomach should go.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ramen Igei

On my visit to beloved Menya Taku just a few days ago, I discovered that one of the former chefs started a new shop. Called Ramen Igei, the shop follows in Taku's steps by specializing in tonkotsu gyokai ramen. I made my way to the far side of Nakatsu and ordered a bowl.


The Bowl
This was a broth where the fish came first, and the tonkotsu second. It was rich if not super thick, and doused in fish powder. The surfeit of onions and sprouts kept the flavors in check, accompanied by some extra-long, woody menma. The noodles were thin and hard, almost like Hakata noodles, which was unusual in this kind of kotteri broth, but wasn't bad. There was a massive slice of chashu hiding beneath the waters, solid and porky.


Would I Go Again?
It was good, but why head all the way out there when Taku is so close?


Should You Go?
It's worth a check for Taku lovers.



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Men to Kokoro 7

I had promised Philoramen I would finish off the Osaka Ra-sai Stamp Rally with him with his first time to the shop Men to Kokoro 7. Whoops. Nonetheless, I'll take any excuse I can get to visit this shop again. I had tried their standard fare before, so this time I went with the clam paitan tsuke soba.


I was given a side of tomatoes, onions, and basil

The Bowl
Despite being paitan, the broth was a light and buttery clam soup. There were bits of fried garlic that made it almost like an oil prepared to dip bread in. Instead, I was given noodles, which were flat and on the thinner side for tsukemen, which still meant they were pretty large. The basil added to the essence of the mixture, and the tomatoes sweetened the whole thing. After finishing the noodles I got the wari-soup, which put a simple if salty cap on the meal.


Would I Go Again?


Should You Go?


麺と心 7

Monday, May 2, 2016

Menya Taku

Well, this is it. The time has finally come. I have completed the Osaka Ra-sai Stamp Rally! It took a while and there were times I had doubts, but I'm happy to have hit all sixteen shops. In fact, the last space I filled on my bingo card was a free space, meaning it could be fulfilled by any shop. And what better way to go out then with Taku?


The Bowl
For once I tried the abura soba at Taku. It was simple, missing the rich flavors of the ramen I love so much, but still with fish powder, bonito, and a creamy egg. I can't say I prefer this to the ramen or tsukemen, but it was a nice way to get a taste of Taku without feeling bloated for the rest of the day.


Would I Go Again?


Should You Go?


The complete card!

My passport that proves I will one day die of a heart attack

And a couple months later, my prize


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kuso Oyaji Saigo no Hitofuri

I've been in Osaka for a while now, but there are still some ramen shops I haven't made my way to. Some shops I've known about even for a long time, but just haven't gotten around to visiting. The shop of the day is Kuso Oyaji Saigo no Hitofuri, which means "The smelly old man's last swing". It's a ridiculous name, but not much more so than the other associated shops, Jinrui Mina Menrui and Sekai Ichi Himana Ramenya.

Kuso Oyaji Saigo no Hitofuri specializes in clam ramen, and so their menu consists of three different varieties. They are all shoyu, but of different levels of richness, and with different kinds of clams: asari, hamaguri, or shijimi. They all looked good, but for my first trip I followed Goldilocks's lead and went with the asari one: not too rich, and not too light.



This is a shop you have to wait on line for

Some fashionable noodle art

The Bowl
In keeping in tradition with the sister shops, the bowl carried a solid shoyu with slabs of chashu covering large portions of it. The soup was sharp, with the light clam flavors providing a subtext to the shoyu. The noodles were flat and grainy, but picked up a measured balance of the clam and shoyu.

Of course what would clam ramen be without actual clams? The clams were almost a reverse of the soup itself: light and refreshing with just a feint hint of the dark broth. The chashu was thin, and since it wasn't fully dunked into the broth, was able to retain its own spicy pepper seasoning. There was also a straw-like bamboo shoot, that had an almost citrus-pine taste to it.



Would I Go Again?


Should You Go?



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ramen Hayato

Hayato is a recent shop that starting getting buzz immediately. Located on the south end of Tenma by Minamimorimachi Station, Hayato is run by a former chef at annually ranked Kadoya Shokudo.


The front of the menu offers just two kinds of ramen: shoyu and miso. Of course I got the miso.


Oh yeah, there's also another secret shoyu on the back.


The Bowl
The fumes alone of this bowl were of a rough miso, and as soon as I tasted a bit of the broth, my mouth was filled with the strong flavors. It was oily and grainy, a not-so-smooth mixture that coated itself around the ginger-laden flat noodles. The ginger that laid beneath the surface of the soup soaked into the chashu too, and was only one of the hidden bonuses, including pieces of yuzu, bean sprouts, and crunchy chunks of menma.


Would I Go Again?
If I'm in the area, I'd stop in again for sure.


Should You Go?
Miso fans should check it out.