Ramen Guide

Real ramen is a meal in itself, and unlike instant noodle cups, there is an art to making delicious ramen. It is a hard dish to make well, and the combinations of ingredients and variety of flavors is almost endless. Ramen varies by region as well as by cook. Lucky for you, Osaka is right smack in the middle of Japan, and people from all over set up shop here and serve unique dishes in their home styles.
The following is a list of ramen shops in Osaka, mostly located in Osaka City but in some cases located in other parts of Osaka Prefecture. These suggestions are based on experience, recommendations, and Japanese-language ramen guides (most prominently Ramen Walker). I have personally eaten at every ramen shop listed. Choose from the list below to skip to a specific selection:

Names are listed in both romanized and original Japanese versions, and addresses are written in Japanese; they will appear as broken characters if your browser cannot handle Japanese text. These pieces of information are useful for those who can read and speak Japanese, and also useful for those who can’t–show the Japanese name and address to a taxi driver if you are riding there by cab, or to someone nearby or at a convenience store if you are already in the neighborhood. You can also click the the address to see the location on Google Maps, which has English-labeled station names.


Ramen Tutorial

Broth: The soup is the foundation of the ramen, and a ramen with bad broth cannot be considered good ramen. The four most common types of soup bases are shoyu (soy sauce), miso, shio (salt), and tonkotsu (pork-bone soup). While tonkotsu, which is most popular in Kyushu, is the most popular among many ramen-goers, the other flavors can be just as good or better when done right. There are many other soups as well, such as blends of the above, chicken, konbu, and so forth.
Noodles: Noodles are another thing that can make or break a bowl of ramen, although I have had ramen with good soup and chashu that manages to compensate for lackluster noodles. Noodles shipped in from a mass supplier tend to be the least impressive, and noodles hand-made in the shop (normally only found in small, local shops) are obviously the tastiest. Noodle thickness varies by shop and region (including, for example, Hokkaido ramen shops located in Osaka). When you order, you can ask for katame noodles if you want them to be harder, and yawarakame noodles if you want them to be softer (or say nothing and leave it to cook).
Toppings: The most common toppings for ramen are nori (dried seaweed), chashu (thick, fatty pork slices), kamaboko (slices of a type of fish cake), moyashi (bean sprouts), onions, green onions, shinachiku (seasoned bamboo shoots), mushrooms, beni shoga (red ginger strips pickled in umezu), and boiled eggs. Corn is not uncommon, and unexpected ingredients appear at less conventional ramen shops–if it tastes good, anything goes. The quality of ingredients can really change the quality of ramen: a bad balance, poor-quality meat, or piles of cheap vegetables to hide cheap noodles and bad broth can result in an awful dish. On the other hand, a perfect blend of fine ingredients in the right amounts makes for some delicious eating.
Hot or cold: Ramen tends to be served hot, but there is also the option of eating reimen, which is very similar but served with cold noodles and cold soup in two separate dishes. When the noodles are separate from the soup, it is called tsukemen, and you eat it by dipping the noodles in the soup then eating them. Cold noodles in an air-conditioned shop will hit the spot during the hot, humid summer months in Osaka.
How to eat: Your ramen will come with a spoon and chopsticks, and there will be condiments such as garlic, ginger, beni shoga, sauces and spices on the counter in front of you. Add whatever you like, and sample the soup first if you wish by using the spoon. When you eat the noodles, use your chopsticks to bring them to your mouth, and then suck them in using your throat–this is important, as sucking them with your throat (using lung power) will bring the noodles down your throat quickly and cool them along the way. It’s perfectly normal to make slurping sounds when you eat ramen in Japan, even if you feel a little timid at first. After eating the noodles and toppings, it’s also fine to pick up the bowl and drink directly from it. While many countries do not have these eating customs, there is no reason to feel self-conscious or nervous when doing these things in a Japan…people may even be impressed that you know how to eat like a local!
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Hakata Ippudo

博多 一風堂

Description: Ippudo ramen, originally from Hakata (Kyushu), is popular nationwide, and I have personally been in love with it since my days as a student in Tokyo. It has two unique tonkotsu broths–“red” and “white”–both of which are just amazing (although I prefer “white” just a little more). The lunch set during the afternoon is a great deal and comes with ramen, gyoza, and rice (students take note: this is cheap and will fill you up for an entire day). You can also request noodle firmness in nine levels from soft to hard.
Recommended: Order ramen during lunchtime, and you can pay an extra 100 yen to add rice and gyoza for an excellent and filling meal.
Hours: Varies per shop, but generally from 11:00 am to 3:00 am.
Access: The Namba Shop (2-3 min. walk from Nankai Namba or Namba Subway Stations) and the Umeda Shop (5-7 min. walk from most Umeda stations, located near Hankyu Higashi-dori) are the most popular.
URL: http://www.ippudo.com/index.html (Japanese)

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Shi-ten-noh

四天王

Description: While Shi-ten-noh offers good quality ramen in the tonkostsu-shio, tonkostsu-shoyu and tonkostsu-miso flavors, it’s worth coming here just to try the tonkostsu-shio. The chashu is not the best, nor are the noodles, but for a chain restaurant everything is pretty good and prices are low. Plus, finding really tasty shio-based ramen, an oft-neglected soup flavor, is a rare and beautiful thing. Give this local Osaka ramen chain a try.
Recommended: Try the tonkotsu-shio chashumen. You won’t be sorry.
Hours: Varies per shop, but most are open from 11:00 am to 2:00 or 3:00 am.
Access: While there are Shi-ten-nohs all over the city, the most convenient ones are probably those in Namba. The Namba-naka Shop is located about 2 min. on foot from Nankai Namba Station; the Sennichimae Shop is located within 5 min. from either Nipponbashi or Namba Stations; and the Dotombori Shop is located right along Dotombori, 5 min. from Namba Station. There is also a shop right next to Nakatsu Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line, a short way from Umeda.
URL: http://www.shitennou.jp/ (Japanese)

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Men’ya Eguchi

麺屋えぐち

Description: This tiny ramen shop, hidden away a short walk from Esaka Station in a residential area, is always surprisingly full of customers, with the queue often stretching out into the street. Its savory broth, scrumptious noodles, and perfectly balanced flavor, not to mention the large volume you receive for such a low price, makes it well worth the wait. This is probably the best ramen shop I have come across in the Hokuetsu area of Osaka.
Recommended: Try the basic tsukesoba.
Hours: 11:00 am to 2:30 am, and 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm (10:00 pm on Sundays and holidays)
Access: 5 min. walk from exit 1 of Esaka Station on the Kita Osaka Kyuko Line (through services operate from the Midosuji Subway Line).

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Hokkaido Nagurikomi Ramen Betsubara

北海道なぐりこみラーメン 米通腹

Description: This is a small, family-run shop in a quiet residential neighborhood near Nishinagahori Subway Station. It serves refreshing, Hokkaido-style ramen with thick, filling noodles, made using konbu and tonkotsu as the broth base. The amount of bowls served is limited to a mere 100 per day.
Recommended: Kiwamiso, which uses miso broth and special sticky noodles made from Hokkaido potatoes.
Hours: Open 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on weekdays. Open 11:30 am to 10:00 pm on weekends.
Access: 3 min. walk from exit 1 of Nishinagahori Station (Sennichimae and Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Subway Lines).

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Men’ya Kurobune

麺屋 黒船

Description: The thing that surprised me the most about Kurobune wasn’t their great seat meal price, their wide selection, or their member’s card that gives customers a free side dish every time they come back–it was their miso ramen. Miso is not one of my favorite flavors, because I often find it lacking compared to others, but this miso ramen is truly one of a kind. After eating once at Kurobune, I knew it had would be one of my absolute favorites in town. Try for yourself and become a believer!
Recommended: The miso ramen is my first recommendation. The shionegi-men, with heaps of green and white onions and a refreshing broth, is also excellent.
Hours: 11:00 am to 2:00 am Mon.-Thu., until 5:00 am on Fri. and Sat., and until midnight on Sun. and holidays.
Access: 1 min. walk from exit 4 of Yotsubashi Station (Yotsubashi Subway Line), which is connected underground to Shinsaibashi Station (Midosuji and Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Subway Lines).
URL: http://www.ship-kuro.com/ (Japanese)

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Kinryu Ramen

金龍ラーメン

Description: What kind of Osakan would I be if I didn’t mention Kinryu? This is the iconic ramen shop of Dotombori, and you can find shops all throughout the district. The keywords here are cheap, fast, and delicious. If you have been in Osaka for any length of time but haven’t visited Kinryu, don’t worry, I won’t tell…just get there before somebody finds out! This simple ramen costs almost nothing and is available at any time of the day or night in order to meet the lifestyle of the denizens of Namba. You can recognize this shop by the giant dragon on top.
Recommended: A bowl of ramen here at 5:00 am after a night of bar-hopping is bliss.
Hours: Varies by shop, but the Namba shops tend to be open 24 hours a day (including the one located on Midosuji Blvd).
Access: There are several shops along Dotombori and around town, but the easiest one to find is along Midosuji Blvd. at the entrance to the Dotombori promenade (just a few steps from Namba Station on the Midosuji Line).

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Sodaisho

総大醤

Description: Sodaisho is a famous little place with lines that stretch out the door. Its speciality is an incredibly rich, flavorful shoyu broth. Television stars and celebrities come here to eat often, and for good reason. The chashu-don, which is a donburi-style dish with rice, mayonnaise, nori and chashu, looks a bit strange but tastes wonderful. For shoyu ramen, there is no better place than Sodaisho.
Recommended: Shoyu chashumen and chashu-don make for delicious, filling meal with all the best flavors of Sodaisho.
Hours: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm to midnight
Access: The most popular shop is a 4 min. walk from exit 11 of Tenjinbashisuji 6-chome Station (Tanimachi and Sakaisuji Subway Lines).

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Men’ya 7.5 Hz+

麺屋7.5Hz+

Description: While the name still makes no sense to me, the ramen is tasty enough that it doesn’t have to. Ramen here is cheap and satisfying, and the restaurant has a unique layout made up of individual booths, so you will feel comfortable even if you go alone. The soup is a rich shoyu flavor with a unique taste you won’t forget anytime soon.
Recommended: The basic shoyu ramen for 600 yen is a good choice.
Hours: 11:00 am to 10:30 pm
Access: The Dotombori branch is located just 3 min. on foot from exit 2 of Nipponbashi Station (Sakaisuji and Sennichimae Subway Lines, Kintetsu Lines).

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Kio

亀王

Description: Kio (lit. “turtle king”) is a local chain that you will come across almost as often as Shi-ten-noh. It’s main attraction is the chashumen, which features absolutely huge, savory pieces of pork. This, in fact, is the main reason I go to Kio. I also recommend the refreshing reimen (cold ramen) during Osaka’s hot summers.
Recommended: Chashumen is good except anytime except the summer, at which time reimen should be ordered instead.
Hours: Varies by shop, but most shops open at 11:00 am and close between 3:30 am and 5:00 am.
Access: The Dotombori shop is about 5 min. on foot from Namba Station, the Kyobashi shop about 5 min. from Kyobashi Station, and the Umeda shop is 1-2 min. on foot from Higashi-Umeda Station (Tanimachi Subway Line) and not too far from the other Umeda Stations. There are many other shops around Osaka, too.
URL: http://www.kiou.co.jp/ (Japanese)

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Chuka Soba Hanakyo

中華そば 花京

Description: This tiny shop is located in the shopping arcade east of the station, and it is probably the best ramen you will find in Kyobashi. It is a tiny shop (nine seats) with a big reputation, so expect to wait a bit for a seat if it’s lunch or dinner time. The owner of Hanakyo used to be an ordinary company worker, but his dream of making the ideal ramen shop, one that started when he was a student, was always in the back of his mind, and after eight years of corporate life he quite to open his ramen shop. He has succeed in creating a fun and lively shop with great food, and accomplished the dream of escaping corporate life that I can only dream about.
Recommended: A basic bowl of tonkotsu chashumen is all you need at Hanakyo.
Hours: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm to 1:00 am
Access: 3-5 min. by foot from any of the Kyobashi Stations (JR lines, Keihan lines, Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Subway Line), although perhaps a little further if you come in on the JR Tozai or Gakkentoshi Lines.

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