Discovering the Best Osaka Ramen – WanderLawyer

Takaida-kei Style and a Brief History of Instant Ramen in Osaka
Don And Somen Restaurant Is Located In Shinseikai, Osaka, Japan

When we traveled to Japan last year, eating good ramen topped our list of things to do. We had heard ramen was just better in Japan and were excited to try out as many ramen shops as we could. Once we got to Osaka, we asked the locals about interesting activities. Their responses almost always emphasized that there were more interesting things to eat in Osaka than things to do, meaning the true highlight of visiting Osaka was exploring the culinary scene. Ground zero of this scene was the ramen. It’s safe to say that eating ramen in Osaka was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Not only was the ramen delicious, but the ramen shops had an incredible vibe, making the experience even more enjoyable. We left Osaka convinced that not only was it the top digital nomad destination in Japan, but it also offered the best ramen in Japan.

Ramen is an iconic noodle soup dish that greatly varies across Japan, with each region showcasing its unique ingredients, styles, and flavors. In Osaka, a truly unique variant known as Takaida-kei ramen, or Takaida-style ramen, stands out for its one-of-a-kind preparation style and distinct taste that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re searching for the best Osaka ramen, this is a must-try for anyone exploring the city.

Price of Ramen in Japan

The price of ramen in Japan varies depending on the type and location. In Osaka, a typical bowl of ramen in a standard restaurant can cost between 600 and 1,200 yen (approximately $5.50 to $11). Specialty ramen shops and high-end restaurants may charge more, but overall, ramen is an affordable and delicious way to experience Japanese cuisine.

A Quick History of Osaka’s Ramen Variant

This ramen style was named after the Takaida stop on the Osaka City Bus, where most shops in Osaka served this kind of ramen. Takaida-kei kept evolving to please local tastes until this neighborhood specialty became a city-wide favorite. Despite its name, it’s technically not considered a local dish in Osaka, but it’s a popular dish among ramen fans and definitely worth trying. When exploring this area, keep in mind that ramen is usually called “chuka soba” here.

Characteristics of Takaida-kei Ramen

What makes Takaida-kei unique is its soy sauce-based broth, which is sweeter, deeper, and richer than typical ramen broths in Japan. This broth resonates well with Osaka’s preference for bold and umami-rich flavors. Made with chicken and kelp stock, the broth pairs perfectly with the noodles, which are thicker and chewier than those found in other regions of Japan. Common toppings include a soft-boiled egg, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), negi (green onions), and char siu (braised pork belly), creating a unique flavor profile. Takaida-kei ramen is also made with tamari shoyu, a soy sauce made purely from soybeans without wheat.

Where to Eat Takaida-kei in Osaka

Menya Joroku

Menya Joroku is one of the best places to visit in Osaka for ramen connoisseurs. Their ramen is addicting and satisfying, with a tasty soup boasting a smoky and deep flavor. Conveniently located just a 5-minute walk from the Namba station, it’s a bonus for those with an Osaka Amazing Pass and those visiting Osaka Castle.

  • Address: 6-16 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0075, Japan
  • Contact number: +81 6-6643-6633

Menya 7.5Hz+ Umeda

Menya 7.5Hz+ Umeda is a treat for ramen lovers. Their version of Takaida-kei is fantastic and well-known across the city. Here, you’ll enjoy a bowl of steaming hot ramen topped with green onion pieces and char siu that almost covers the noodles. The noodles are chewy and thick, and the broth isn’t greasy and has a delicious aroma.

  • Address: Japan, 〒530-0001 Osaka, Kita Ward, Umeda, 1 Chome−2−2 大阪駅前第二ビル B2F
  • Contact number: +81 6-6346-5510

History of Instant Ramen in Osaka

Osaka prefecture is also known for inventing another style of ramen: instant ramen. It was invented by Nissin Foods’ founder, Andō Momofuku, in a small backyard in Ikeda City, about 30 minutes from Osaka City. They first sold their chicken-flavored instant ramen in 1958. To learn more about the history of instant ramen, visit the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda. Admission is free and the museum is a short walk from Ikeda Station on the Hankyu-Takarazuka Line.

  • Address: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda, Osaka 563-0041, Japan
  • Contact number: +81 72-752-3484

Popular Ramen in Japan

Ramen has a long and storied history in Japan. It first gained popularity in the late 19th century as a Chinese dish catered to the working class. From there, it evolved rapidly, with indigenous ramen styles emerging in the early Showa era as more and more people took to the noodle soup in its adopted homeland.

Ramen is now regarded as an indispensable part of the country’s culinary heritage and has become one of Japan’s most recognizable dishes, along with sushi, sashimi, yakitori, teppanyaki, and the Portuguese-inspired tempura. Here are some significant milestones in the history of ramen:

1884: Ramen is First Sold

Yowaken, a restaurant in Hakodate on northern Hokkaido island, becomes the first restaurant to serve something similar to ramen, known simply as “Chinese soba.” This shio (salt-based) ancestor to modern ramen quickly spreads via the Chinese community to the rest of the country.

  • Where to try: Jiyoken, Hakodate Ramen Horan

1910: First Dedicated Ramen Shop Opens

Kanichi Ozaki opens Japan’s first ramen shop, Rairaiken, in Tokyo’s busy Asakusa district, attracting up to 3,000 customers daily with their signature shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum resurrects the name in 2020 to recreate the original flavor of Rairaiken’s ramen.

  • Where to try: Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

1927: Kitakata Ramen is Invented

Genraikan in Kitakata, Fukushima province, pioneers a pork shoyu ramen named after the city. Kitakata has become the third-most popular style domestically after tonkotsu and Sapporo’s miso ramen.

  • Where to try: Bannai Shokudo, Makoto Shokudo, Ramen Ippei

1937: Tonkotsu Ramen is Invented

Tonkotsu ramen, made by boiling pork bones for hours, is invented in Kurume, Fukuoka. It is now the most popular style of ramen overseas and familiar to international visitors to Japan.

  • Where to try: Hakata Issou, ShinShin Hakata Ramen, Hakata Daruma

1953: Miso Ramen is Invented

Up north in Sapporo, Aji no Sanpei becomes the first ramen shop to add miso to the mix, creating one of the three main types of ramen.

  • Where to try: Sapporo Junren, Sumire Nakanoshima, Aji no Sanpei

1958: Instant Ramen is Invented

Momofuku Ando develops Chicken Ramen, the world’s first pre-cooked instant noodles, which becomes a global phenomenon.

  • Where to try: Anywhere in the world

Visiting the Osaka Instant Ramen Museum offers a deeper appreciation of this culinary staple’s history and innovation. As you embark on your ramen journey, you’ll discover why this dish holds a special place in Japanese culture and why Osaka is a prime destination for ramen enthusiasts.

Verdict

Exploring Osaka’s ramen scene is a culinary adventure that offers a taste of both tradition and innovation. From the unique Takaida-kei ramen with its rich soy sauce-based broth and chewy noodles to the fascinating history of instant ramen invented by Momofuku Ando, Osaka provides a diverse and delicious experience for ramen lovers. The price of ramen in Japan is generally affordable, making it accessible for everyone to enjoy this beloved dish. Whether you are visiting iconic ramen shops like Menya Joroku and Menya 7.5Hz+ Umeda or delving into the historical aspects at the Cup Noodles Museum, Osaka is a must-visit destination for anyone passionate about ramen.

Authors

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a startup attorney and co-founder of WanderLawyer. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.