Ramen isn’t just popular inside Japan; many foreigners rank Ramen as their favorite Japanese food. Did you know that there are a ton of ramen stalls within the old capital? In the battle of ramen superiority within the Kansai region, Kyoto is a top contender. In this article I’ll describe what exactly is Kyoto style ramen, and recommend some ramen stores in the Kyoto area for you to try out!
Kyoto Style Ramen
In the year 1938, near Kyoto station, a single Chinese man opened a noodle stall that served a type of noodle that couldn’t be described as either udon noodles or soba noodles. Soon after he set up a shop at the East side of the station, and developed a type of ramen dish served in a rich tasting soy base soup that came with a cut of pork meat, and Kyoto style ramen was born.
Some people might have the preconception that Kyoto style ramen would be a high class imperial court style lighter tasting dish, but it’s actually a very heavy and dense style of ramen (こってりで味の濃いラーメン). Although, this description of Kyoto style ramen isn’t exactly a hundred percent accurate.
There are many well-known Kyoto store that have a chicken bone base soy sauce broth base. At first glance these ramen bowls look like they would have a rich, dense flavor, but the flavor is relatively lighter than what one would expect. For some Kyoto style ramen bowls, it can look richer than it taste.
Ramen Street in Kyoto
When thinking about where to get ramen in Kyoto, the first thought that comes to mind is Ichijoji. Well deserving of its title as the “Ramen street” it has a staggering abundance of different ramen shops all located on a single street. If you search on the web to find where the best place to get a bowl of ramen in the world is, Ichijoji is definitely in the running.
However, if you look on a map of all the different ramen shops on google maps, you’ll find that Kawaramachi is more densely populated with stores that sell ramen then Ichijoji by a large margin. However, most of the stores in Kawaramachi that sell ramen are restaurants that sell other food, and Ichijoji is also a mostly residential area of Kyoto. A crowded ramen store in the residential district can certainly feel extremely popular when the surrounding area isn’t as densely populated.
3 Recommended Ramen Shops to Hit while in Kyoto
Within the various clusters of ramen stores in Kyoto, here are 3 recommendations for you to try.
1．Honke DaiichiAsahi, Old style noodles, Takabashi original store
Honke DaiichiAashi is a five minute walk east of Kyoto station, and has been making ramen for around 50 years. It’s ramen boast a nostalgic old timey feel.
This ramen is made with a pork belly and bone melted broth base served with big thick noodles, and is topped with garlic and onion. It looks like a relatively simple bowl of ramen, but the thick noodles mixed with the pork bone broth base and soy sauce makes for quite the eloquent display. It’s very tasty and flavorful.
— めきちう (@9RxdJx3eyPfaO0g) October 8, 2019
"I went to eat ramen in Kyoto! DaiichiAashi Takabashi original store!! I saw the so long line waiting for the ramen before, so I've wanted to try this ramen out (Actually it was super famous.) Mmm so nice smell!! The rich taste of soy sauce based soup! The char-siu pork and kujo-negi are super tasty too!"
— 時仲ハジメ TokinakaHajime (@tokinaka) January 14, 2013
"The ramen store is opened since 5am morning. You can walk from Kyoto station!"
2．Ramen Hikosaku, a variety of different ramen soup broths, Menkiya Kawaramachi store
If you take the Karasuma line up to Imadegawa station, Ramen Hikosaku is a 15 minute walk away. At Ramen Hikosaku, you can try a variety of different types of ramen. With a selection ranging from chicken, pork, and fish broth bases, to customizing the noodles to be soft, thick, or thin, you can make yourself your very own perfect bowl of tasty ramen.
— カジワラアキヒロ ギター弾くひと (@kajiwara_tw_th) March 28, 2019
It's been a while to eat at Hikosaku. I've tried the limited menu 'Beef-bone (Gyu-kotsu) shio ramen' this time!
— ぽにたん☆熱血応援魂！ (@ponitan610) February 10, 2019
Every time I visited Kyoto, I always eat Kyoto ramen here. A big bowl of soy sauce with backfat ramen with thick noodles! OMG this is damn good!
3．Menkiya, Ramen Made with Kyoto Specialties, Kawaramachi store
A 5 minute walk away from Kawaramachi station, Menkiya is a ramen store that only uses ingredients made in Kyoto. From utilizing pork from pigs that were raised in Kyoto, to using Kyoto grown onion, to using Kyoto produced eggs, all of their ingredients come from Kyoto, and they all go into a delicious bowl of ramen you can’t get outside of the city. Utilizing superfine noodles and a broth made with pork and chicken bones, this combination makes for a tasty pairing; the thick soup and light noodles make for a perfect match.
— エズラはじゃじゃ馬 (@doublerole38) June 13, 2020
Ramen I've tried out lately in Kyoto; Soy sauce ramen from Kagari, Spicy dipping noodle from Tsurukame Rokkaku, Dan dan noodles from Kirameki, Soy sauce ramen from Menkiya...
There are a ton of ramen shops to visit while in Kyoto, if you see one you like why not go in and try it!
Described in this article is just a shortlist of recommended ramen stores in Kyoto. There are a ton of different ramen stores and types of ramen to try while in Kyoto, you might even end up finding a store with an entirely new flavor of ramen you didn’t even know existed! If you’re ever in the area, why don’t you try one of these stores for yourself?