Ramen Maru i (ラーメン○イ), Wakayama City. The first thing you’ll notice about the ramen here is the huge pile of green negi on top. Apart from looking good, this added a nice oniony sweetness which went nicely with the balanced stock and subtle soy flavour. The stock itself had a thick mouth feel but wasn’t too heavy or strong. Very nice ramen but they were a bit stingy with the chashu! The pirikara ramen (the red one) was a bit oily but was nice and spicy with a slight sourish taste. Definitely worth a try if you could be bothered walking 15-20 minutes from JR Wakayama station. 

Tabelog entry:

Chuka Soba ramen, Kyoto, March 2011.

Found this amazing little ramen shack near the Imperial palace in Kyoto by mistake after googling ramen spots in town. The tonkotsu broth had clams in it to my surprise. The combination of clams and tonkotsu was absolutely unbelievable though, and the men was also top class - freshly made in the shop daily.


Kyoubashi Koutarou, Wakayama City. This was the last stop on my ramen tour of Wakayama City. Went for the lighter ‘asari’ (?) option. It was nicely balanced, not too heavy or light, with a definite and rounded taste of shou yu (soy sauce). I actually preferred the shio-ramen (salt) with binchoutan (black) noodles. The noodles didn’t actually taste any different to the other ones. The stock (chicken/tonkotsu?) was nice and light with nice hints of sesame - a refreshing alternative to the heavy tonkotsu based stocks. 

After a few days of eating mainly ramen in Wakayama City I was feeling a bit bloated and… well, like you do after eating too much rich food - somewhat guilty and ashamed. At least now I know the basics of chuka soba. Looking forward to going back to try some other places and, of course, to see Tama-chan at Kishi station!

Tabelog entry:

Simple Noodles

I’ve made this dish with beef, tofu, chicken, and just by itself and it always comes out great.

1 pack of Chuka Soba or similar dry noodles makes about 3 servings.


  • Noodles/pasta (I generally used Chuka Soba dry noodles but you can use whatever you have on hand
  • Garlic
  • Scallions 
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Meat or meat substitute (optional)


  1. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain. Return to pot and add minced garlic, chopped scallions, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes to taste. Put the lid on the pot and shake to mix ingredients (this is really the easiest way). 
  2. Transfer to bowl
  3. If you’re adding meat or a meat substitute, cook it thoroughly, cut into bite-size pieces, and mix with the noodles in the pot. Enjoy!

Hikari Shokudou (ひかり食堂), Ehime, March 2013. 

I’m currently staying with my friend in Shikoku, in a small city that’s kind of in the middle of nowhere - though it still rocks some pretty mean looking industrial chimneys and landscapes. 

He offered to take me to this local spot they’d recently discovered. He said it was a little out of the way. Turns out he meant a 30 minute plus drive along the coast amid dilapidated industrial estates and sleepy villages. At the end of it is a small cabin, with a sign saying chuka soba, and the shop name not even visible until you actually go to the side of the cabin and clock it written in a small font. Who needs publicity or access when you have word of mouth? It was a saturday and there was a queue. People driving from all over the area for a bowl. Clearly this was serious business. 

The inside resembled a mini izakaya of sorts, with some counter spots around the kitchen, on another wall and a very small set of tables on a tatami. Think this might have been my first ramen on a tatami actually. The menu is kept simple, as with most chuka soba spots. Three shio bowls (including a tsukemen), and three koteri bowls. The latter holds their speciality, the hikari ramen. Couple of sides, including a chashu gohan bowl and that’s about it. 

Despite the heat and feeling like a thick broth would be overkill I went for the hikarai ramen (the brown soup in the pictures above). The soup reminded me of Ippudo, so thick that it resembles a consome almost. Flavour wise it’s a mix of pork broth, shio / umami and fish, which the chef pulls off by thickening the soup to the point where the flavours make sense. Couldn’t quite figure out how he’d thickened it but I’ll admit he pulls it off. The chashu was pretty fatty and the pickles a good touch while the men was standard for a chuka soba place. Only problem being it was so piping hot I burnt my tongue. The chashu gohan side is ideal, you can just pour soup on it for a double whammy of porky goodness.

My friends had the standary shio and the tsukemen, which seemed to have some thicker noodles which looked amazing but I forgot to try them. Definitely worth hunting down is for some reason you happen to be near the area. 

Kourakuen, Roppongi, Tokyo

I was out in Roppongi the other night and felt like ramen, so had every intention of hitting my beloved Tenkaippin for some tonkotsu. However, given the late hour, two friends suggested we go for something a little lighter and guided me to Kourakuen…

Right in the middle of Roppongi Crossing, open 24 hours, Kourakuen specializes in “chuka soba”, another name for ramen. I fully intended to get just a bowl of simple shoyu ramen, but the waitress upsold me on a combo with fried rice and gyoza…

All this for 900 yen, which is a little over seven bucks at the current exchange rate. Not bad for a complete meal!

Granted, it wasn’t the greatest bowl of ramen I’ve ever eaten, but it hit the spot that night.


#2195: Nissin Gyorai Inaniwa Chuka Soba - Japan

Finished (click to enlarge). Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts, hard boiled egg, kizami shoga, spring onion and nanami togarashi. The noodles are excellent - very sturdy and full of chewiness with a fitting break to them. The broth is a real beauty with a lovely oiliness whose bubble dance at the top like jewels and has a very nice combination surf and turf kind of taste to it. I really enjoy the seafood component; good sardine taste. The included vegetables were of good quality and the pork was good as well. 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.  JAN bar code 4902105235874.