Friday, October 28, 2011

Tsukemen Suzume

My tsukemen-loving friend and I were looking for somewhere to eat, and a pretty good place in America Village came to mind.  I had been to Suzume once before, and I remembered it being solid, but I wanted to refresh my memory, show my friend, and blog about it.

Last time I got the spicy tsukemen, but this time I held out and ordered the store-recommended gyokai tonkotsu version.

つけ麺 雀
Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Chūō-ku Nishishinsaibashi2丁目11−11
Tsukemen Suzume is in America Village, just a block south of the triangle park.

The Bowl
The noodles were, in standard fashion, thick, chewy, and curly.  The broth was a rich, medium-thickness gyokai tsukemen.  It was very flavorful, and tasted good with the very tender menma and chashu that was hiding inside.

Would I Go Again?
I was glad I went a second time, and I would go again.  It may not be the best gyokai tonkotsu in Osaka, but it was very good, and I would even say that I liked the spicy miso tsukemen better.

Should You Go?
Yeah, sure.  It's in a good location, so drop by after some shopping in America Village.  Just make sure you don't splash on any of the nice clothes you buy there.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Currently ranked #3 on ramendb's Osaka ramen list.  Gunjo is only open two and a half hours a day, during lunch, and is closed on Sundays and holidays.  This leaves only one possible time for me to go to Gunjo: Saturday afternoons.

I took a long walk through the Tenjinbashi arcade, and eventually ended up near Tenjinbashisuji Rokuchome Station.  I made my way to the small alley where Gunjo is located and found...a line.  It didn't look too bad, so I waited.  Eight or so people eventually lined up behind me, but about 45 minutes later, they were asked to leave by the one and only guy who ran the whole shop.  After another half hour of waiting, I was finally let in to the tiny shop that seated no more than seven, with only one or two items on the menu.  What I ordered was, of course, the tsukemen.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Kita-ku Tenjinbashi6丁目3−26
Gunjo is just east of the north end of the Tenjinbashisuji arcade.  It's in a small alley called Renga Dori, so you may have to do some investigation and keep an eye out for the sign.

The Bowl
The broth was a very thick gyokai tonkotsu.  It was rich and completely covered the chewy, fat noodles that came with it.  So much so, that it was almost more like a sauce than a soup, which was fine by me. The chashu, also covered in broth, was melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Would I Go Again?
Gunjo was the best gyokai tonkotsu shop I've been to in Osaka, and maybe my second favorite including Tokyo.  If I can make time on a Saturday afternoon, I'll be there again.

Should You Go?
Yes, you should.  Make time for a visit.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I was pretty hungry after leaving work, and was in the mood to try something good.  One of my coworkers had told me a lot about Tokiya, a shop in Nishinakajima Minamikata, north of Umeda that has very good tsukemen.  Ramen Walker and ramendb agree.  I had looked it up beforehand, so I knew there would be no problem, and I headed north.

By now, if only because of the title of this post, you've probably realized that I didn't make it to Tokiya that night.  A mere three days earlier they had changed their hours; they were no longer open at night.  Well, my bubble was burst, and I knew it would be hard for me to get there what with work five days a week.  I stopped in a nearby bookstore, browsed through some magazines and discovered Yottekoya, a shop with a branch by Tanimachi Rokuchome.  The magazine advertised a deal that involved curry ramen, which is all I needed to know to be on my way.

I got there and looked at the menu.  No curry ramen.  This wasn't the first time this happened, and as previously, I was saved by tantanmen.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Tennōji-ku Uehonmachi1丁目1−18
Yottekoya is on the southeast corner of the intersection between Nagahori Dori and Uemachi-suji.

To start I had the original tantan-gyoza.  I've never heard of such a thing before, so I had to order it.  They were solid gyoza, and the tantan-flavor, onions, and sesame really did make it taste like a weird blend between gyoza and tantanmen.

The Bowl
It was no curry, but it had been a while since I had some good tantanmen, especially the standard kind where the noodles are already in the broth.  The soup was a thick and oily tantan soup; it tasted very similar to the gyoza and clearly was made with the same kind of tantan sauce.  There were meat and green onions littering the bowl, entangled by the curly, chewy noodles.  The egg was especially good; tender and a little spicy like the soup.

Would I Go Again?
The tantanmen was pretty good, and the gyoza were wacky, so I'm curious to see what kind of ramen they're offering up next.  Yattekoya is a chain, so if I go again I'll probably check out a different branch.

Should You Go?
It's not on my list of the best places in Osaka, but it's solid and worth stopping by if you're in the area.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Another day, another ranked ramen place.  After another long day at work, I was hungering for some ramen, and after some research I realized that Rakunijin was actually pretty close to the office.  The shop closing wasn't really an issue, so I casually walked on over.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Kita-ku Naniwachō 4−22
Rakunijin is just off an alley off of Tenjinbashi-suji

The Bowl
Similar to Kadoya Shokudo, Rakunijin is known for their simple-yet-well-executed shoyu bowl.  Although at Rakunijin, there's a bit of a fishy gyokai taste to it as well.  As expected the soup was simple, thin, and drinkable, but the gyokai flavor added a lot to it.  There was a bit of crunchy kikurage mushrooms and a few little shrimps scattered among the thin noodles.

Would I Go Again?
Rakunijin doesn't offer the kind of ramen I usually find myself craving for, but the bowl was very balanced and given its location I could easily find myself taking a friend here some time.

Should You Go?
Yeah, it's a very solid shoyu bowl, with a good if uncomplicated twist.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ramen Cliff

To make up for the terrible rain the day before, I vowed that if Sunday was a nice day, I would take advantage of it.  I didn't really expect that to happen, but low and behold, Sunday had fantastic weather, and I decided to go somewhere.  As usual I took a gander at Ramen Walker and found a tsukemen place that looked pretty good and was kind of far away from where I lived.  I hopped on my bike, and headed out to Ramen Cliff.

I had never been to this area of town before, and I was excited to find that there was a really nice park nearby, even with a small beach area where a bunch of kids were playing (in October, though, really?).

The inside of Cliff was very new looking, with a nice wooden counter that I tried to avoid spilling on, though that was really a lost cause.  I ordered what I had read about; the white chicken tsukemen.

らぁ麺 Cliff
Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Miyakojima-ku Katamachi 1丁目9−34
Cliff is right near Osakajokitazume Station, on the north side of Tosabori Dori.

The Bowl
As expected, what I got was a very chicken-y bowl of tsukemen.  It was fairly thin and very drinkable, especially with the thin, flat noodles that were served with it.  It wasn't as thick as some of the chicken ramen I've before, and it was a bit salty, but the menma and chashu were extra delicious.

Would I Go Again?
It's a bit out of the way, but it's the only place like this I know in Osaka.  I'd try the chicken tsukemen again, but they had a number of other bowls I'd like to try too.

Should You Go?
If you ever make it to this area, it's worth a stop.  Check out the park just a bit north, too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kadoya Shokudo

Kadoya Shokudo is one of the most highly rated ramen shops in Osaka.  After going to Yashichi on Friday, I grew a desire to hit up a bunch of the top shops from ramendb.  It was a rainy Saturday, but I was not to be stopped.  My friend and I met up in Namba and braved the weather all the way to the (relatively) far-off Nishi-ku.

Kadoya is known for their shoyu ramen, which is what I ordered, while my friend got a seasonal pork mazemen.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Nishi-ku Shinmachi 4丁目16−13
Kadoya is on the north side of Nagahori-dori way west of Shinsaibashi, close to Nishihoribashi station.

The Bowl
This was, as advertised, a very simple shoyu bowl.  Light broth, and flavorful without being too salty.  The medium, long noodles' taste reminded me of soba noodles.  The soup was also full of thick, long menma, and some standard but decent chashu.

Would I Go Again?
I get why some people love a simple soup like this, but I'm more interested in richer or more experimental ramen.  If a friend from abroad comes to down and I want to tream him to a very solid shoyu, I'll come here.

Should You Go?
If shoyu's your thing, this is a good place.  It's kind of out of the way though, unless you just came from a Buffaloes game at the Kyocera dome.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Ah, the elusive Yashichi.  One of the most critically acclaimed shops in Osaka, and the second highest ranked on ramendb at time of writing, Yashichi can be hard to get into.  It's only open on non-holiday weekdays, for lunch.  If you have a fulltime job, you'd better take a day off if you want to eat here.  Luckily, it happens to be walking distance from work for me.  Unfortunately, the line is normally long enough to take well over an hour, and on a normal day, Yashichi is not an option.  One fateful day, though, it rained and it poured and the line was pretty short!  I had eaten ramen as my previous meal and didn't have my camera on hand, but I could not be stopped, and after waiting on line for a short time, entered and ordered the Shoyu ramen.

らーめん 弥七
Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Kita-ku Toyosaki 3丁目4−8
Yashichi is right down the road from exit 1 of Nakatsu station.

The Bowl
As mentioned above, I didn't have my camera, but luckily I was able to get my coworker to take a photo for me with his smartphone.
One of the reasons that shoyu is not my favorite kind of ramen, is that many shoyu bowls are thin, salty, or not that rich in flavor.  This is not the case with Yashichi.  The broth was rich, fatty, boiling hot, and covered in pepper.  The medium-sized noodles were long and very easy to suck down.  The chashu and the egg also shined, both extremely tender flavorful.

Would I Go Again?
If I ever see the line that short again.

Should You Go?
If you're ever free when it's open.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Another night off from work, and another night looking for ramen.  My friend wandered around Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori with no goal in mind.  My friend spotted this new-looking called Shisen, but all I managed to notice was the hot pepper above the name, which was all I needed.

The shop looked pretty new, and the manager confirmed it was.  He was a young guy, who was apparently studying English at a local university, which made talking to him more fun.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Chūō-ku Dōtonbori 1丁目1−4
Shisen is a bit east on the north end of Dotonbori.  Be careful, because there's just a small staircase leading down to its basement location.

The Bowl
Not the only spicy bowl I had eaten recently, but not the best either.  The broth was clear and very oily, and a little bit spicy.  The noodles were thin and curly and the bowl was filled with vegetables - in fact they were out of chashu that day.  Overall the bowl was less like standard ramen, and more like hot pot, because of the ton of vegetables, and the weak taste of the soup.

Would I Go Again?
The owner was really friendly and all, but the ramen was too oily without enough flavor.

Should You Go?
It's Dotonbori, there are better options.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I've been pretty insistent about traveling on my three day weekends, and recently I'd been to Tokyo and Fukuoka.  The beginning of October offered another three day weekend, and the next city on my list was Nagoya.  I'd passed through Nagoya before and been to the castle, but pretty much nowhere else.  I knew I wanted to walk around the downtown area of Sakae, check out Atsuta Jingu, but most of all, eat the heralded Taiwan ramen.

Taiwan ramen is not a style offered in many places, and it was created in Nagoya by Misen.  During a break from filling myself with other Nagoyan treats like miso katsu and ten-musu, I walked to the Yabacho Misen and ordered the classic Taiwan ramen.

Aichi-ken Nagoya-shi Naka-ku Ōsu 3丁目6−3

The Bowl
I tout myself as a guy who likes spice.  And I do.  But when I go to a ramen place that offers a spicy dish, it usually, while delicious, is quite tame.  Misen's Taiwan ramen is not.  It has a clear, thin broth, which is quite spicy, filled with the taste of hot peppers.  The noodles were reminiscent of tan-tan men noodles, thin, curly, and very long.  Chives and ground pork littered the bowl, and my lips were tingly by the end.

Would I Go Again?
Absolutely.  I don't get to Nagoya often, but even if I lived there, I would come by whenever I was hankering for some good spice.

Should You Go?
If you're passing through Nagoya, yes.  If you live in Nagoya, why haven't you gone already?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kamigataya Goroemon

I got off work late, but was feeling like ramen.  I was lazy and didn't feel like walking far, and a search on ramendb revealed a tonkotsu tsukemen shop connected to Umeda station.  I walked on in, and ordered the standard tsukemen.

つけ麺 上方屋 五郎ヱ門
Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Kita-ku Kakudachō 9
Kamigataya is located in Shin Umeda Shokudo Gai, a set of indoor alleys containing a number of restaurants.  It's across from JR Osaka station, and connected to subway and Hankyu Umeda stations.

The Bowl
Unlike most tsukemen I find myself eating, the broth was somewhat thin, very salty and murky with fat.  It was pork flavored; no fish essence in this one.  They served medium sized noodles that were a little hard.  The chashu was not that flavorfu, but tasted better when soaked in the soup.

Would I Go Again?
I wasn't blown away, and there are better places in the area.

Should You Go?
There's not a ton of reason to.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It's October and no longer blazing hot in Osaka, so I've started walking home from work.  This has given me a chance to walk by all sorts of shops and restaurants I never knew about before.  One that caught my eye is a ramen shop with a big sign that features its curry tsukemen.  As I've always said, when life gives you curry, you eat it.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Kita-ku Dōyamachō 5−9
Mannen is on the east side of Shin-Midosuji, close to the Whity shopping mall.

The Bowl
The broth was a steaming hot, thin, sweet curry soup.  It had a little bit of spice; not so much that it hurt, but just enough to let you know it was there.  The noodles were thin and springy; they almost reminded me of rice noodles.  The sweetness of the broth was a little overwhelming at the end, but the wari-soup mixed with it was quite drinkable.

Would I Go Again?
This was very similar to the couple other times I've had curry ramen or tsukemen before, and I don't mean that in a bad way.  The other places I've been to aren't in Osaka, though, so if I have a craving for curry tsukemen again, here's where I'm going.

Should You Go?
Curry tsukemen is pretty uncommon, and while it's not a must-try style, it's worth checking out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


This has been a weekend of mediocre ramen.  Not all bad, but not amazing either.  After biking to Umeda today I met with a friend at Yodobashi, and after shopping we went to the roof restaurant floor to grab some food.  It's here where we found Chabuton.

They had an interesting looking limited-time torigara soup, but I went for the classic tonkotsu.

Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Kita-ku Ōfukachō 1−1
Chabuton is on the restaurant floor of Umeda's Yodobashi Camera.

The Bowl
The broth glistened from the layer of oil covering it.  It was a fairly standard tonkotsu; nothing too special, but not bad either.  The noodles were thin and chewy.  The only part that really stood out was the sesame seeds that topped the ramen, which added flavor to the broth and chashu.

Would I Go Again?
It was pretty mediocre.  I don't see any reason to make a second trip.

Should You Go?
There's plenty of other tonkotsu in the city, and a ton of good places in Umeda, so you can skip this one.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Tenkaippin is a Kyoto-based ramen chain that has stores all over Japan.  I had always heard that it was supposed to be not bad, but since there are so many good ramen places out there, I never made time for this chain.  My friend had a random urge to give it a try, and on October 1st they were giving out coupons for free ramen; that was all the reason I needed to give it a go.

They offer kotteri (thick), assari (thin), or half-and-half soups, and I went for the kotteri with normal noodles.

Osaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Naniwa-ku Nanbanaka 2丁目8−99
This branch of Tenkaippin is right next to the exit of Namba Parks by the post office.

The Bowl
Most chains I've been to before have thin soup, so I was surprised at how properly thick the soup at Tenkaippin was.  It's made with chicken and vegetables, but due to the thickness and saltiness it reminded me of Hidechan, where I had recently eaten.  The noodles were thin and very long, and there were lots of menma and onions added to the broth as well.

Would I Go Again?
I wasn't all that impressed, but it was decent for such a large chain.  I've now got this free coupon, so I may go here one more time and check out the assari version.

Should You Go?
If you're in a big city, there's probably enough options that you never have any reason to check out Tenkaippin.  Having said that, if you feel like getting some decent ramen without going very far, there's probably a Tenkaippin closer to you than anything else.