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!

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.



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.