My Favorite Ramen in NambaOsaka
Brian MacDuckston of Ramen Adventure brings to you exclusive articles for Noctive. He goes for the BEST ramens out there, and have eaten over 1,000 bows! This time, he will report ramens in Namba, Osaka
You can’t spend a night in Osaka without at least entertaining the idea of going to Namba. Most train lines touch Namba at some point, whether it is Namba Station or Osaka-Namba Station. First-timers are more-or-less required to take a photo in front of the famous Glico sign in Dotonbori. And with more bars per building than anywhere else in Japan, you’ll probably end up here until late at night or early in the morning.
Ramen in Namba isn’t much different than the rest of Osaka. There is an abundance of chain shops from around Japan in the more touristy areas, but if you search one or two blocks off the main drag you will find an endless array of stellar shops specializing in all kinds of ramen.
Many shops in Osaka are a bit carefree with their scheduling, much like the people that live in Japan’s second-largest city. Don’t be disparaged if a shop is closed randomly or making a different menu on the day you go, it’s all part of life in Osaka.
Ramen Style Junk Story (らーめんstyle Junk Story)
Junk Story is anything but junk. Maybe the name refers to the haphazard interior, which is full of random nick-nacks and retro Japanese signs. Whether that is true or not, the ramen here is a chicken lover’s dream. Light soup with some deep chicken and umami flavors.
Make sure you order the shio no tokimeki (塩のトキメキ). It comes with more gorgeous toppings than you would expect a simple shio ramen to have. Pork chashu and both chicken thigh and breast chashu.The egg is particularly nice. The soup is a blend of specialty chicken and clams for layers of flavors. A couple of pink peppercorns bring a bit of spark to the whole thing.
So why the junk? Fans of Japan’s lesser known ramen styles know that junk ramen is a style from a different part of Japan, heavy soup covered in pork fat, garlic, and things like mayonnaise and cheese. Turns out this shop isn't junk-style ramen, but ramen-style junk!
Joroku (麺屋 丈六)
Osaka style Takaida (高井田系) style ramen is the draw at Joroku. Shoyu ramen is made with tamari soy sauce, a kind of soy sauce that makes use of 100% soybeans with no fillers. It tends to be darker and more intense. Some people call it Osaka-style, though that would be limiting all the other great styles of ramen available in the area. First time ramen lovers should definitely get the Takaida ramen at Joroku.
Only a few minutes from Namba Station, Joroku is probably the most convenient shop on this list. Unfortunately, the place is quite amazing and quite popular, so you can often expect a lineup or you might find that the soup has run out for the day. Plan accordingly when you visit this legendary shop.
Joroku satisfies regulars with a frequent selection of limited bowls on offer, like an autumn sanma ramen (秋刀魚醤油らーめん) available during the months when sanma fish are in season.
Uemachi (中華そば うえまち)
The chukasoba at Uemachi may appear simple at first, but what this bowl lacks in flair it makes up for in flavor. This is one of the most refined soy sauce ramen shops in Osaka.
The master spent four years at another well known Osaka ramen shop before opening up Uemachi on his own. What he learned there was precision, and everything about Uemachi is precise. The soup is a base of very specific chicken from nearby Nara Prefecture and Berkshire Pork from not-so-nearby Kagoshima prefecture. It all comes together wonderfully. It's the kind of bowl that would give the high-end shoyu ramen shops of Tokyo a run for their money.
Noodles are made in house. Apart from the classic chukasoba, they have a variety of rice bowls and an aemen (和え麺), simple noodles in Japanese dashi, which is a bit more like Japanese soba.
Kamukura is a true Kansai native. They opened their first shop in 1986 and have since gone on to open over two dozen shops around Japan. Sure, it is a chain, but their unique ramen shop located on Osaka’s famous Ebisu Bashi-Suji Shopping Street is worth a quick stop.
Kamukura’s ramen soup is inspired by French bouillion techniques. It’s clear and deep, with big vegetable flavors coming through. Vegetables are sourced from local farms in nearby prefectures. Chinese cabbage from Nara, onion from Wakayama, and negi scallions from Kochi are fresh and vibrant. The bowl, with so much cabbage, almost looks like a Japanese hotpot as opposed to ramen. As you finish the noodles, the veggie flavors really melt into the soup. Customize your bowl with their many toppings, like kimchi, onsen eggs, wakame seaweed, or even fried mochi.
It is worth noting that Kamukura won a national championship for their fried chicken rice bowl. It’s hit with a sweet and tangy sauce, and just the right size to go with a bowl of their ramen.
Top image: My Favorite Ramen in Namba