The old capital, Nara, has a lot of famous traditional foods such as chagayu and kakinoha sushi, but in actual fact there are also many restaurants around that serve really delicious ramen. Here are 5 such ramen restaurants that are so delicious they could give traditional Nara dishes a good run for their money.
1. Ramen Mitsuba
Ramen Mitsuba is a 5-minute walk from Tomio Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line in northern Nara. More than anything, the special characteristic of this restaurant is the frothy soup, achieved by using a mixer. The savoriness of the domestically produced chicken bones and pork is condensed into this rich and flavorful soup, and when combined with the springy noodles that is made daily in-house, this bowl of ramen really stands out from the rest! On the menu, there are items such as the Ton CHIKI Shoyu Ramen (750 JPY) whose soup base is made out of 4 different types of soy sauce, and the Ton CHIKI Shoyu Char Siu Ramen (950 JPY) made with char siu that's grilled at a high temperature in an oven that's so delicious you won't be able to get enough of it! Whichever item on the ramen menu is available in large-sized portions at no additional cost, so try getting a bigger serving if you are a big eater. Also, please take note that while business hours are from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm, the ramen is sold on a "while supplies last" basis.
2. Menya Noroma
Menya Noroma is a 17-minute walk from Kyobate Station along the JR Sakurai Line in northern Nara. This restaurant is proud of its tori paitan soup (white chicken-based broth), which is made by stewing large amounts of domestically produced chicken for 8 hours, straining for 2 hours, then leaving in the fridge to rest for a day. The taste is thick and savory, yet is light on the palate. One taste of the ramen here and you will never forget it! The juicy char siu, which is stewed at a low temperature, is only cut and prepared when the kitchen receives an order, so that the char siu does not deteriorate in flavor. The menu includes items such as the standard chicken soba (750 JPY (incl. tax)), and the chicken tsukemen (850 JPY (incl. tax)) with irresistible chewy noodles. Menya Noroma is also wheelchair-accessible, and Japanese-style tatami seats are available for diners with small children. One look and you can tell that this restaurant really values its customers.
3. Men Shokudo 88
Men Shokudo 88 is about a 7-minute walk from Yuzaki Station along the Kintetsu Kashihara Line in northern Nara. Diners can expect to wait in line to enter this popular ramen restaurant. The standard chuka soba (650 JPY) is a chicken-based soup that is mixed with seafood-flavored soy sauce, making for a slightly rich tasting soup that goes really well with the handmade flat noodles. Also, do try the junk soba (700 JPY), the house spicy maze soba (soupless ramen) topped with garlic and diced char siu. This is the best partner for plain rice! The items on the menu all make use of rare char siu, which brings out the full savoriness of the pork. The buta don (300 JPY), rice generously topped with rare char siu, is also a really popular item on the menu.
4. Menjin Baromuan
Menjin Baromuan is conveniently located a mere 6 minutes away from JR Nara Station. The rich taste of the popular Shin Chuka Soba (750 JPY) comes from mixing flying fish-flavored oil into the pork, chicken, and soy sauce soup base, which goes really well with the moderately thick and curly handmade noodles. The thick and crunchy slices of menma, and the rare char siu sprinkled with black pepper on the rim really help to accentuate the flavors. Besides that, we also recommend the Yamato Black (800 JPY), the house special made with garlic chili oil and squid ink, as well as the soupless Maze Soba (750 JPY).
5. Buta no Hone
Located about 8 minutes away by bus from JR Nara Station, this elusive ramen restaurant does not operate on a daily basis. Normally operating as "Muteppou Gamushara," it transforms to "Buta no Hone" only on days that the CEO of the Muteppou group decides to make some ramen. This restaurant is proud of its rich tonkotsu soup, made using high-quality water and locally produced pork bones. While rich and flavorful, the soup is surprisingly easy on the palate. We recommend the Buta no Hone exclusive Buta Nibo Ramen (750 JPY), whose exquisite soup is made using a blend of tonkotsu and niboshi (dried sardine) soup. Usually, the soup is blended using a ratio of 7 parts tonkotsu soup to 3 parts niboshi soup, but you can request to adjust the ratio according to your liking. However, as mentioned earlier, Buta no Hone does not operate on a daily basis, so be prepared to wait in line when it actually does open!
Have you been to any of these ramen restaurants before? While not very well known, Nara is a place where many good ramen restaurants compete over taste. Do look for your favorite bowl of noodles among the many high quality ramen restaurants here!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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