Monday, January 1, 2018



tl;dr: Here's a list of great Osaka ramen

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:

Best Ramen in Osaka - A list of my favorite shops in Osaka, sorted by type and location
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!


大阪のベストラーメン:大阪の一番好きなラーメン屋さん。場所と味でソートしています ラーメン地図:今までに全国の食べたことあるラーメン屋さん
The Beginning:大阪のデビュー

Friends in Ramenを楽しみましょう!

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Fukushima is a place I try to frequent, but there still somehow are a handful of shops that have managed to elude me. Tonight I made an attempt to go to Kineko.


Time for Plan B. Another shop on my list was Mutahiro, a sardine ramen shop from Tokyo. I had enjoyed the bowl I had at the Ramen Sengoku, and was curious to try their specialty, the Wahaha Niboshi Tokusei Soba.


A nice side dish of meat, eggs, bamboo shoots, and seaweed

The Bowl
In my imagination ramen like this is what they used for mirrors back in the olden days. The soup was brimming with oil and fat, making the greasy sardine broth scaldingly hot, salty, and delicious. The noodles were fat and curly, like in some of my other favorite sardine bowls.

Ordering the special "tokusei" meant I had no shortage of toppings. There were slick and chewy wonton skins, kind of an alternate to the noodles. Pork and chicken chashu provided different textures for the piles of fat that would come with them when being pulled from the dish, but the creamy egg with its partially protective white proved to be the best vessel for the salt and fat.



Would I Go Again?
I might, but given how much fat I ate directly, I can only go sparingly.


Should You Go?
This is a bowl for sardine fans who can stand a little grease.


中華そば ムタヒロ

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ramen Expo - Day 2

I had already made a trip to the Ramen Expo in 2015, but that was just because the ramen shop I originally wanted to go to was closed. It was time for my requisite trip to the Ramen Expo, and I was happy to have a chance to try more of the shops.

Ramen Expoにもう一回行っていましたけど、その時行きたいラーメン屋さんが行けなかっただけ行きました。行く予定がすでにあったのでもっと色々なラーメン屋さんが味見できました。

This time my first bowl was a collaboration between a handful of shops. Tai Shio Soba Toka, Men Dokoro Nakigoe, and Ramen Dining An joined force to create their Ehime Uwajima Tai Shio Soba. Uwajima is a place famous for Tai, or sea bream in English, so it makes sense that would be their theme.


The Bowl
The broth was a light, good way to start my meal, full of sea bream, a flavor I'm much more used to in sushi than in ramen. The noodles were round, firm, and white, more similar to the noodles I've seen in some bowls of pho. The menma was dark and woody, while the chashu was light and melty. A quality bowl all around.


And of course for my second bowl I went for a richer, miso bowl. This time Ramen Bakajikara, known for their miso, was serving crimson miso ramen.


The Bowl
This was a bowl made skillfully and perfect for the weather. The broth was a flavorful miso that immediately took in the smokiness of the chashu stewing in it. The pork came in the form of thick, smokey bacon. They would have been great on their own, but allowing the charred bits to flow into the soup pushed this bowl to the next level. That's aside from the solid noodles and excessively creamy egg. I wish I could have this bowl outside the festival.


Something tells me this won't be my last time here.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tori Soba 145

A new shop had just opened on Dotonbori, which is almost too easy to visit. I'm always happy when I can visit a shop on its first day, as I was able to with chicken ramen shop Tori Soba 145, the last part pronounced "hiyoko". I went with the standard tori paitan soba, though I was tempted by the shio and miso versions.


The Bowl
As soon as the bowl arrived, I could smell its strong aroma: oil and chicken fat reminiscent of the first whiff of entering a yakitori shop. The soup's flavors backed up this scent; milky if a bit thin and full of fat and flavor. The noodles were round and a bit thin, but the smoothness of the broth if not the full flavor was carried over. Sure enough the meat in the bowl was not pork but grilled chicken, completing the yakitori-style experience, and keeping it available to customers who can't eat pork.


Would I Go Again?
I'm not in a rush to, but maybe one day if I don't feel like traveling or trying somewhere new.


Should You Go?
If you're looking for a simple and solid chicken bowl in Dotonbori, Tori Soba 145 merits a visit.



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ramen Expo 2015 - Day 1

I had the afternoon off from work, and whenever I have a half day I think about what out-of-the-way ramen shop I can visit. This time I made my way to Tsumugu, popular shop in Minami Ibaraki.


Unfortunately I was way too late. They were long out of soup. Visiting Tsumugu would take more preparation. Fortunately, though, it was December, which mean that the now-annual event Ramen Expo had just begun in Banpaku. I walked from Tsumugu to the park, hoping to have at least one bowl of good ramen.

おそかったです!スープがなくなりました。また行く時にちゃんと準備せなあかんとわかってきました。でも、12月なのでRamen Expoが始まったばかりでした。万博公園まで歩いて行って、何かラーメン食べれるかなと思いました。

For this visit I decided my first bowl would be something light and easy to drink, so I would still be hungry for a second. I aimed for Due Italian, a shio shop from Tokyo with a soup base and chunks of cheese as toppings.


The Bowl
This was a strange experiment indeed. The broth at first was a standard shio; nothing too unusual except for how salty it was. It was really waiting for the cheese to be mixed in, forming a thicker ramen-style macaroni and cheese. The thin noodles too were quite slurpable, until they took in the cheese and turned a delicious, sticky gob. This was an interesting way to take a standard bowl and turn it into something unique.


For my next bowl I turned to Menya Yu, also from Tokyo, who showed up with a sweet shrimp miso bowl, a weakness of mine.


The Bowl
This was the exact opposite of the first bowl and exactly what I was looking for: a powerful miso hiding a nice shrimp subtext. The noodles were firm and carried the shrimp flavor well, but could have used to be a bit thicker given how rich the soup was. The pork, too, was a bit overbearing, and was easily outshined by the shrimpy soup.


Goodbye Tower of the Sun. I'll see you again.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Rokkun Billy S1

When I was in Tokyo I was recommended to go to Rokkun Billy S1, the new shop formed by Junichi Shimazaki, ramen legend and former manager of 69'N'ROLL ONE. I'm embarrassed I wasn't even aware of it, but at least it was in Hyogo, where I rarely venture. At any rate, I no longer had any excuse to have not visited, so I took the train to the suburbs of Amagasaki. I went with the standard shoyu: the Ama Rock.


The Bowl
After eating wild and weird bowls it's easy to forget how good straight shoyu can be. Rokkun Billy made me remember. The Ama Rock had soup that seemed equal parts oil and soy sauce; the texture was light and grainy, with a bit of green and red onions mixed in a strong aftertaste. The noodles came in thin bunches than slurped almost too easily. The meat was superb too, peppery, thin slices that matched the understated complexity of the bowl.


Would I Go Again?
Yes, if I can make it out that far.


Should You Go?


I hope I can see this face again

らぁめん矢 ロックンビリースーパーワン

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta

Continuing my latest Tokyo trip, my friend kicked me out of his place early on a Monday morning as he went to work. Normally I'd be annoyed, but this was a perfect opportunity for me to visit recently Michelin starred Tsuta. Before they got their star, they used to just have long lines. Now, though, you need to visit extra early in the morning to pick up a ticket.


I got my ticket, allowing me to come back five hours later. When I did, I still waited on line for almost an hour. Once a minute, some poor tourists would come by hoping to hop online, only to be rebuffed and told they were many hours too late. Finally I was let in, and ordered the yakibuta egg shoyu soba.


The Bowl
I can understand why this is the first shop to earn a Michelin star. The delicate soup is made from a mix of different kinds of shoyu, producing a light if woody, smooth flavor, with a finish that tasted a bit like truffle oil. The noodles were medium thin and tan, full with a grain taste. The yakibuta were slices of red pork that were full and juicy; an extremely well done version of the Chinese-style barbecue pork you find in some bowls of chuka soba. The other toppings didn't shine as much as the soup and noodles, which meant they were just very good. The egg was creamy and flavorful and the menma were thick and fibrous. A high class, high quality bowl of ramen like this is more than deserving of a Michelin star.


Would I Go Again?


Should You Go?


Japanese Soba Noodles 蔦