Kamukura: The Sleeper Ramen

Every once in a while, you encounter a sleeper – someone/something that looks ordinary but is actually very extraordinary.  

I went to Osaka last week to buy some stuff and get a breather from school.  After a couple of hours running around, I was super hungry.  And no one likes to walk around hungry.

Ramen is always my go-to food and Ichiran is my go-to place in Osaka.  But the lines were just too long and I was too hungry.  Alas! I found Kamukura, a shoyu ramen specialist.  Funny thing: it was right in front of Ichiran!

Shoyu ramen is essentially ramen with a soy sauce base in the English language.  I’ve always preferred shoyu over shio (salt), but both them share a special place in my tummy’s heart.

First off, buy a meal ticket if you want to save time during lunch.  Just punch in 700 -800 Yen and select a teishoku (lunch set).  My hunger level was peaking so I opted for the largest set, which included rice and gyoza.  The other large set was with rice and fried chicken nuggets.

The ramen is unbelievably big!  It’s one of those rare moments when the food is as big as its plate.  I always hate eating small amounts of food in obnoxious and huge plates.  Your face can probably fit in the bowl.  There’s also a tremendous amount of roasted pork and cabbage in it (which I love).  Looking back, I didn’t even need the gyoza and rice.  Don’t let the size fool you.

This is some great tasting shoyu ramen and is quite different from what I have tasted before!

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Ichiran Osaka: Because You Deserve A Customized Bowl

Ichiran arguably makes the greatest mass-produced ramen in the world.

My first encounter was back in Osaka around September 2014.  Yes, this was the one near the bridge by the riverbank.  And yes, this is the one where troops line up for hours. Being so, I gave up and settled for somewhere forgettable.

Now that I live here, Ichiran is part of my regular ramen rotation.  In Kyoto, there is one in Shijo. In Osaka, there are 2 in the Namba/Dotombori area (shhh, the 2nd one is a secret).

The sole resonating point of why you should eat at Ichiran is customization.  After popping 790 yen for the basic ramen, the staff should hand you a white paper with a lot of options.  Some include: amount of spring onions, noodle firmness, pork cutlet option, amount of Ichiran sauce (i think this ranges from 1-infinity), and so on.  It’s like one of those painting stalls you can find in malls. You can buy a pre-designed canvas and go crazy painting over it.  There must be thousands of combinations for an Ichiran bowl of ramen.  I have been there more than 10x already and I swear that I have tried different sets every time.  You can even have noodle refills for an additional fee!

I recommend getting seats in the bar-like area.  It just creates an atmosphere unlike any other ramen joint.

If there’s one thing about lining up for food in Japan that I have learned: it is worth it every time.