If you’re only familiar with the instant noodle experience, it’s time for an upgrade! Come to Japan, where the real thing is plentiful and meccha oiishi (very delicious), as they say in Osaka. Though not known for ramen, Osaka is called “the nation’s kitchen,” and there are countless tasty options in the culinary capital. Check out the best of the best below.
Perfect for the hungry sightseer, this tasty ramen shop can be found in the shadow of the Umeda Sky Building, one of Osaka’s best attractions. Larger than the average ramen shop, Mitsuka Bose specializes in delicious miso-based ramen, but make sure to try their sui-gyoza (boiled dumplings) with a Minoh Beer to wash it all down.
This tiny, adorable ramen shop doesn’t even have seats, but don’t let that be a deterrent! Mazenibo Junkie’s signature ramen is spicy and flavorful, a unique brothless bowl of noodly goodness. Located right in the middle of Nipponbashi, Osaka’s hub of geek culture and cheap electronics, this shop is just as delightful and quirky as its surroundings. In the spirit of equal opportunity, the shop only employs female cooks, an unusual and welcome sight in a male-dominated industry.
Feeling a little bit funky? When in the mood for ramen with a twist, head to ME-CHA-KU-CHA for a roller coaster ride of flavor, full of surprising twists and turns. This staple comfort food has been injected with unusual flavors, like the Taiwanese-inspired bowl filled with hints of clove and star anise, or the Thai tom yum ramen, spicy and flavored with lime. This hip shop is located near Horie, so it’s easy to add to the itinerary, and well worth it.
Kikuhan is tucked away among the backstreets of Nakazakicho, a very conveniently located yet quaint neighborhood near downtown Umeda. Kikuhan serves a fusion ramen of both pork and chicken broths to create a creamy and fragrant bowl of frothy goodness. This spot is perfect for a break while wandering the artsy cafés and art galleries in the area!
Ayam-ya in Namba is one of the few halal-certified eateries in Osaka, making it a great stop for Muslim tourists and other conscious eaters. They even have a prayer room. Many delicious, traditional ramen varieties are available like shoyu (soy sauce) and shio (salt) based broths as well as tsukemen. Amam-ya also has shops in Kyoto and Tokyo.
Ramen Zundoya originated in Himeji, the locale of Japan’s finest castle. Their style of ramen is tonkatsu, which is pork-based, but from there customers can customize their bowls in many ways – you can choose the hardness of the noodles, amount of oil in the broth, spiciness, and toppings. The shop, recognizable by the giant lantern hanging above the entry, is open 24 hours, so this is perfect for a quick lunch or after partying all night in Shinsaibashi.
Prema Chablani also contributed to this piece.
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