Ramen is one of the most iconic Japanese dishes the world over. Although it might not come with that luscious, silky and super flavorful umami broth and chewy noodles all the time, when you say ramen, in whatever form it is, it is synonymous to comfort food and people just adore it. Ramen noodle shops are popular in a lot of countries and they have their own take in this superbly filling dish.
Japan is also home to other noodle dishes, not just ramen. Some of which are soba, udon, and shirataki. Their texture, cooking and presentation styles vary. Whether they are slurped from the bowl, dipped, eaten without or less soup, eaten cold or as an addition to a dish, everybody loves it. If you happen to be in the Kansai region, here are some of the beloved noodle shops that you shouldn’t miss.
Ide Shoten, Wakayama
Before social media led us to so many ramen options, here’s one that was declared by a TV program to be the best in Japan. Visit on weekdays if that’s at all possible so you don’t have to wait in line for an hour as is customary on weekends. The thick tonkotsu shoyu broth and chewy noodles would be able to give you an explanation why the locals keep coming back for more.
Kadoya Shokudou Honten
Osaka has been known for their ramen and this is the shop to go to if you want to try a bowl from a Michelin graded establishment. Just like any popular restaurant, expect a queue and the insides to be packed to the brim. Their all-time favorite Chuka soba, or Chinese style noodles, coupled with a simple dark-colored chicken flavored broth and a strip of nori right smack in the middle blanketing a piece of char siu and golden noodles is a force to be reckoned with.
The milky creamy thick broth made of natural salt and fresh mussels is a unique take on ramen broth since it’s usually either chicken or pork bone. Flavors as deep as the ocean where the seashells are from will envelop your senses and fill you with a new found love of this seafood ramen. Check out their menu for other seasonal offerings and who knows what else you’ll find yourself falling in love with.
Resshi Shoyu Menkobo Sanku
It’s not just the cut of meat that’s as wide as the bowl that’ll surprise you. It’s the niboshi broth made of dried sardines that’ll take your breath away. If you think it’s going to smell fishy, well think again. Everyone says it’s amazingly not an inch fishy at all. Just like other popular ramen varieties, the soup is thick, rich and ultra tasty.
Chuka soba Uemachi
Since the chef was from one of the top-rated noodle houses in this list, Kadoya, you’ll surely expect nothing but purely delicious Chuka soba this time with his own creative flair. The latter is a must try but if you’re into something fancy and interesting, try out their tsuke-men. The dipping method is quite fun while satisfying your hunger and senses.
Men Factory Jaws
This extraordinary named noodle shop isn’t just for men, yes, women could slurp their way to a bowl of their famous pork bone and fish flavored ramen with trimmings of pork cuts, egg, and other condiments. This Hawaiian styled shop serves their bowls in different sizes that cater to all levels of appetite.
Have you ever heard of burnt ramen? Yes, it’s burnt ramen because the miso based broth is cooked in 300 degrees celsius lard that is heated in a wok with sparkling orange flames in their kitchen. It’s a must try when you’re in Kyoto because you know that when there’s something unusual and entertaining it’s worth waiting 40 minutes over.
Maze-soba is definitely something out of the ordinary when it comes to noodles. It’s tantanmen, spicy Chinese ramen with the mincemeat toppings, but without the broth. The spicy sauce is hot and will send tingles to your mouth and down your throat. But it’s that kind of spicy pain that you’d surely want to experience all over again when you get to taste this awesome saucy dish.
This list is just the very tip of the iceberg because there are so many noodles houses across the Kansai region that will surely satisfy your ramen, soba and udon cravings not to mention the most fascinating and unique twists in the noodle kingdom. The varieties are endless, plus you can have more in a day without breaking the bank because a bowl of noodles isn’t so expensive that you can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even as a snack in between.