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!

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.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Shinmachi Ramen

My trip to Nagasaki had sadly come to an end, so it was back to trying local ramen joints in Osaka. One small place not too far from where I live is Shinmachi Ramen, named after its quiet neighborhood, Shinmachi. They had a variety of ramen, without one particular specialty, but they advised me as someone who likes spice to go for the spicy miso Heisei Ramen.


The Bowl
Shinmachi Ramen presented a thin, light, brown miso. It wasn't full of the deeper flavors you'd get in a thicker broth, but there was a subtle taste to it, and a fair bit of spice. The thin noodles matched the broth; any thicker and they would have had trouble taking it all in. The chashu and other toppings were decent but did not stand out against the spicy miso.


Would I Go Again?
It was alright, but I have new places to try.


Should You Go?
Maybe if you live nearby, otherwise nah.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Menya Always

After my first day in Nagasaki eating its famous chanpon, my friends and I explored the city and tried various foods that it offered.


Sakamoto Ryoma
 Spectacle Bridge
 Sakamoto Ryoma and Thomas Glover, in coffee form
Sasebo burger
 Turkish Rice
 The mining island that looks like battleship, Gunkanjima
Nagasaki's famous creamy milkshake

But in the end, of course, I had to try some proper ramen. Last year, I made an appearance on Japanese morning show Shittoko. Two other foreigners appeared with me advocating ramen in Japan, and the one living in Nagasaki introduced tonkotsu shop Menya Always.

Menya Always has a variety of rich pork ramen, but the strange and unique item that stood out was the lemon tonkotsu ramen, which is what I ordered.

最後にやっぱりラーメンを食べたくなってきました。去年に土曜日の朝番組の「知っとこ」で出ました。一緒に出たラーメンが好きな外国人が二人いて、長崎に住んでいた一に紹介してもらった「麺也 オールウェイズ」に行ってみました。


The Bowl
What would have been a heavy porky mixture was made much lighter by the several lemon slices placed on the surface of the ramen. It seems like a strange combination, but citrus has worked well with ramen before, and I was surprised just how much the addition could turn a rich bowl into a light and drinkable one. The loads of onions on top added a bit of a sharpness to it. The noodles and chashu were by-the-numbers Hakata style, which means thin and firm for the noodles, and tender for the slice of pork.


Would I Go Again?
Yes, this was strange and delicious.


Should You Go?


麺也 オールウェイズ

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Nagasaki! This year's Vernal Equinox Day meant a trip on the night bus to my second prefecture in Kyushu. Nagasaki is close enough to Fukuoka to mean there's good tonkotsu ramen around, but as any Japanese person knows, Nagasaki's famous dish is not ramen, but chanpon.

Chanpon is a gelatinous pork and seafood soup, filled with all sorts of vegetables. As compared to ramen, you might even say the toppings get the spotlight in chanpon; chanpon restaurants will often advertise just how much vegetables or seafood is floating in their bowl.

My initial thought was to head to the most famous and claimed inventor of chanpon, Shikairo, but a friend I met in the area dissuaded me and instead took us to local shop Tentenyu, strangely with the same name as a Kyoto ramen chain. I went for the special chanpon, which contained all of the toppings that were available.




The Bowl
This is truly a different beast from the ramen I'm used to. The soup fell onto my spoon on molasses-like drops; a slightly sweet if very fishy gelatinous mixture. As if not to be topped, the noodles themselves were thick, round and firm. It's impossible to go for a scoop of noodles without running into the myriad toppings: squid, shrimp, cabbage, oyster, carrots, onions, and more I didn't stop to glance at before I put them in my mouth. The variety within a single bowl was welcome, but towards the end as the toppings ran out, the concoction's overwhelming fishy taste took over.


Would I Go Again?
It was good, but next time I visit Nagasaki I have to try another location for variety's sake.


Should You Go?
Yeah, this was solid.