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!

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。


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shinpuku Saikan

It was a Friday night and I had plans in Kyoto. They were pretty late, and near Kyoto Station, which meant that that I could hit up a ramen shop I'd been meaning to visit for a long time. Kyoto is known for its two types of shoyu ramen, an assari kind and a kotteri kind. The kotteri ramen is perhaps most associated with chain Tenkaippin, whose flagship shop I visited last year. Finally I had a chance to visit the flagship shop of the most famous shop of the assari kind: Shinpuku Saikan.

An old school shop with a line, the only bowl offered was the chuka soba. This kind of traditionalism reminded me favorable of other classic shops, like Shukaen or Ganso Nagahamaya.



The Bowl
Medium yellow noodles, dark shoyu broth, and thin slices of chashu fit the bill of a classic chuka soba shop in my eyes. The broth's hoisin-sauce style flavor and saltiness was too strong to drink in large quantities, but just strong enough to provide a powerful flavor to the soft, tender noodles. The chashu was pretty tough, but the fatty slices were salty and brimming with flavor. This kind of simple, salty ramen is where a lot of mediocre shops go wrong, but good, classic shops nail it.


Would I Go Again?


Should You Go?
Yes, it's a Kyoto classic.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ryukishin RIZE

It was a weekday night and I was walking home form work. I wanted to stop to get something to eat, so I decided to try recently opened miso shop Men no Kuni. However, it happened to be Men no Kuni's set day off, so I couldn't go in. Looking for a backup, I turned to Namba Parks's branch of Ryukishin. I had been there once before I started writing this blog, but the restaurant has since been renovated and given the RIZE subtitle so I was curious to see what was different.

They had a variety of clear and thick shio bowls, and I went with the spicy meat and chicken taitan shio soba. That's a mouth full.



The Bowl
Shio is not normally a style you associate with a thick and meaty broth, but RIZE's bowl was just that. The rich umami of the soup was more like a sauce for the medium, square noodles. It was like a cream sauce pasta, and traces of my bowl at Bokkoshi flashed by. There were bits of friend onions and long strips of menma to go along with the two slices of chashu, that weren't so exciting, but were made delicious by being covered in the saucy soup.


Would I Go Again?
Yeah, I've been a fan of Ryukishin in the past, and this may even be the best branch.


Should You Go?
Yeah, check it out.



Saturday, July 19, 2014


A little while back I went to new shop Mondorian for a special limited bowl of ramen. They gave me a coupon for a free egg the next time I visited, so I decided I needed to come back again to try their standard fare. Mondorian offered three bowls: a red tonkotsu, black sardine shoyu, and a white chicken paitan. The red was the recommended, so I decided to go with that one.


The Bowl
Like some of the tonkotsu bowls I had first tried when I came to Japan, Mondorian's broth was covered in layers of oil and filled with chunks of jelly-like lard. It was thick and fatty, kind of like a light if salty version of Kansai classic Muteppo. The noodles were surprisingly thick; thin noodles are normally associated with tonkotsu, but the broth was thick enough that these worked quite well. The dark chashu was tender and flavorful, and like the broth, covered in fat.


Would I Go Again?
For a place that made me feel completely dead after eating it, I would hope for it to have a little higher quality and a little less straight fat. I probably won't be back.


Should You Go?
This one is for people who love super thick, salty ramen. Others can skip.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Men Ippai

Tsukamoto Station - a place I had heard of but never visited. I had heard of it only in passing; a couple times from people, and once as the location of a branch of Suzume. I assumed that that meant there would be a bustling area surrounded by the station, so on a lazy Sunday I walked over there. I arrived and there was...nothing. Not wanting to leave completely empty-handed, I took a photo of the station name.


And let's not forget that while I was there I stopped at Men Ippai. A couple of shoyu bowls: one assari and one kotteri. A long walk on a hot day meant that I wanted to try the lighter one and I went for the assari.


The Bowl
A classic looking shoyu, the broth glimmered with oil and gobs of pig fat. There was salt, and maybe a little fish, along with the straight, noodles that looked uneven as if they were handmade. The grease extended to the piece of chashu stretched across the top of the bowl, and like the broth, the chashu was passable but left something to be desired.


Would I Go Again?
Nah, it was far and disappointing.


Should You Go?