Friday, January 1, 2016



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, April 17, 2015


I'm not very happy when I realize I've missed out on a curry ramen shop in Osaka, but I was on the other hand excited for the opportunity to try Gahaha, a shop I'd overlooked for a long time in Kitashinchi. In a weird Sapporo tribute, Gahaha's main dish is soup curry ramen, which is what I ordered.


The Bowl
Soup curry is a light curry dish offered in Sapporo. Curry ramen tends to be a thicker, and sweeter dish. Gahaha's soup curry ramen offered a compromise: light and peppery like soup curry, but with a bit of a heavier bite. The noodles, too, were stretchy and yellow, not like those found in the Sapporo famous food. Just to make it even more interesting, Gahaha includes carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and a melt-in-your-mouth piece of chashu.


Would I Go Again?
It's a one of a kind bowl. But the shop has closed.


Should You Go?
You can't because it's closed.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Saku no Saku

As hard as it is to believe, there was a time before Friends in Ramen began. Even in that time, I ate ramen. I try to visit as many places as I can, so when I started this blog I faced a dilemma: what do I do about the places I've visited before I started writing? In Tokyo I've gone back to see if shops I visited long ago withstand the test of time, and on this day I've done the same with Saku no Saku.

I visited Saku no Saku within a couple weeks of arriving in Osaka. It is in a central location, and was reviewed well. I was a bit disappointed though, which has prevented me from going back. But on a Sunday with a lot of free time I decided to revisit the Dotonbori joint, and give the chashu-laden tonkotsu another try.

信じがたいかもしれませんけどFriends in Ramenができる前にラーメンを食べました。できるだけいいろいろな店に行こうとするのでブログを書き始めたときに問題が起きました。何の問題化というと行ったことがある店にもう一回行ったらいいかということです。東京なら何回か行ったことある店に行ってまだおいしいかを確認していました。この日「作の作」の再確認しました。


The Bowl
So how is Saku no Saku on its second visit? Pretty much the same as the first. A very acceptable tonkotsu soup, covered in a clear oily sheen, and soft, yellow noodles. There was a ton of chashu as promised, but it was crumbly and didn't stand out. Definitely not bad, but not worthy of high praise either.


Would I Go Again?
Nope, I got my review finally.


Should You Go?


千日前本店 作ノ作

Friday, April 10, 2015


In July a new shop in Higashi Umeda Station called Mentetsu opened up. Just a couple weeks later, I heard all about it from my coworkers; a new shop with a hidden menu, showing up everywhere on TV. I had already visited, though, three days after opening, and just ordered the simple shoyu.


An opening present from Kadoya Shokudo
The Bowl
The whole shop smelled like the fresh shoyu ramen that was put in front of me. It was hot and simple, clear and salty. The clear and clean taste of the bowl was extended to the noodles, thin and barely containing any color themselves, and the thick slice of chashu with a sweet, subtle flavor. It was a refreshing bowl if a bit salty.


Would I Go Again?
I might go back for the hidden menu.


Should You Go?
I would recommend it for assari shoyu fans.


大阪 麺哲

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Men Factory Jaws

Yay, a new shop! I haven't been to Tanimachi Rokuchome besides to eat ramen and today would be no exception: just an excuse to try new tsukemen shop Men Factory Jaws. A strange name for a strange shop. From the outside it looks like any normal shop, but inside it's vaguely Hawaiian themed. I never thought of Hawaii being associated with tsukemen, but here we are. I sat down and ordered the tsukemen with an egg.

やった、新店!ラーメン以外谷六に行く理由は全くなくて今回もそうです。「麺FACTORY JAWS」は変な名前で店もちょっと変わっていました。外観は普通ですけど中身はちょっとハワイっぽかったです。ハワイとつけ麺は関係ないはずですけど。入って味玉つけ麺を頼みました。

The Bowl
One bowl, filled with a deep brown sauce and onions, another with thick, grainy noodles, an egg sliced in two width-wise, and a thick slice of juicy chashu waiting to be slathered in the sauce. The soup matched its main topping: it was a solid tonkotsu gyokai, but it could not hide its loud onion overtures. Everything lived up to its expectations here, but only the chashu soared above them.


A little thank you note

Would I Go Again?
Eh, it was good, but there's plenty of good tsukemen in this city.


Should You Go?
If you are around Tanimachi Rokuchome, this is a place you can count on. Otherwise you can skip it.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015


After a stop in Toyama, my friend and I headed on the Kurobe Alpine Route, a bus, tram, and hike trek from Toyama to Nagano, stopping by a caldera, beautiful valleys, and Kurobe Dam. From there we traveled to Matsumoto. There's not a lot to say about the trip, so enjoy some pictures.


Kurobe Dam
Matsumoto Castle

It was a lot of fun and a good opportunity to see a part of the countryside of Japan I don't often get to see. But this isn't a travel blog, it's a ramen blog! The trains between Matsumoto and the rest of civilization were out due to a snowstorm, so I had to grab a bus to Nagoya and get a train from there. A stop in Nagoya means a chance for Nagoya ramen!

I barely had any time at all, so I stopped in Nagoya Station's Ramen Street. I went for the most Nagoya-sounding one, "Nagoya", and ordered their cochin chicken shoyu.



The Bowl
A bowl of classic shoyu! It was light and not bad, but it didn't shine in any particular way. The chicken was a nice touch, but with a sip of the broth alone there was nothing that made the cochin chicken seem different from the normal pork base.


Would I Go Again?
Eh, nah.


Should You Go?
It was thoroughly drinkable but nothing special. It's as good a place as any if you're passing through the station low on time like I was.



Sunday, March 29, 2015


After my preparation the night before, I was off to Toyama. I had gone pretty close on my trip to Kanazawa the year before, but this time I was planning on touring Toyama city and then heading on the Kurobe Alpine Route to see Kurobe Dam.


Whoops, I messed up in my Toyama Castle photo
 Toyama City
Firefly squid
White shrimp
Toyama craft beer Ecchu Fuga

But I wouldn't dream of stopping in Toyama without trying their famous ramen. I've had it on occasion before, but now with a chance to have it in its birthplace, I looked for a famous shop in the city, and made my way to Taiki.


The Bowl
They say that Toyama ramen was created in the fifties; laborers were working all day, and needed sodium to replenish all the salt they were sweating out. Where there's a need, business will fulfill it and extra-salty Toyama black was born. Workers would take rice from home, and use that to counteract the salt in the ramen itself.

I have to say, I understand why that rice was there. The pitch black soup was maybe the saltiest ramen I've ever had. In other bowls that would disappoint me, but with Toyama black that's kind of the point. Similar to Osaka's Takaida-kei ramen, you're not really supposed to drink the soup (although I did anyway), it's more of a flavoring agent for the absorbent yellow ropes of noodles. The menma were super thick too, and it was impossible to eat one of the slices of chashu without feeling like I took a small shot of soy sauce. I was not let down by this bowl.



Would I Go Again?
Toyama black is not an every day thing; it was a bit much but I also really enjoyed it; I would go back.


Should You Go?
For any ramen tourist, Taiki or a similar shop is a must stop.