The Glittering Nights of Dotonbori
Everybody must have heard of the Dotonbori area, the buzziest and liveliest part of Namba. The dazzlingly bright neon signs lining Dotonbori River illuminate the city during the night.
But, have you heard about a reputable ramen restaurant, situated at the crossing of Dotonbori River and Midosuji, Japan’s peculiar six-line, one-way traffic road? Well, don’t worry, because we’re about to tell you all about it.
Kinryu Ramen, Open 24/7!
If you are in the vicinity of the underground Namba Station, or Nihombashi Station, just look around a bit closer in either of the directions, and you should be able to spot one of the five stores of Kinryu Ramen, situated no more than 500 meters from the stations. All of the stores are open 24/7, so this ramen restaurant is quite popular with people who like to indulge in some drinks at Namba, as they can drop by this store after a delightful night on the town.
Although you’ll find chairs in other Kinryu Ramen stores, the one in Midosuji offers counter seats only.
This store will make you forget where you are and which year it is with its peculiar, junk-art style appearance.
You can order your beloved meal right away by using one of the meal-ticket machines set on both sides of the counter.
The menu has two items for you to choose – ramen, and chashu-men (chashu: roasted pork fillet).
If you take a closer look, you may notice that the “ramen” button is covered with a sticker, so feel free to use other buttons for purchasing your ticket.
After you’ve decided on your dish and bought the ticket, hand it over to the employee, and stand in awe at the speed of your ramen dish being created in front of you – it won’t take more than a minute!
What we have in front of us is the so-called “Kansai-style ramen”, with a slightly lighter soup made by boiling pork bones, and thin, rather soft, straight noodles. The green spring onion, bean sprouts, and pork fillet add even more irresistible flavor to this ramen’s original great taste.
After savoring our ramen as it was for a few minutes, we decided to spice things up a little by adding some of the free toppings – chopped Chinese chive, and some kimchi (spicy Korean pickled cabbage).
One more signature sign of Kinryu Ramen is “topping” the ramen with a hearty amount of the toppings. Still, beware of putting a little too much in your ramen bowl – the charming garlic aroma will be following you around for a long time if you over-do it!
The greatest gift Kinryu Ramen will give you is the chance to adjust your dish exactly to your preference.
Would you look at that! It got quite crowded as we were eating our delicious lunch. The freshly cooked ramen noodles just keep coming out of the kitchen, one bowl after another, trying to catch up with the customers placing their orders.
This rather unusual sight in the wee hours might dazzle you just as it did us – when there is no more room at the counter to sit and eat, people sit on the pavement or even eat while standing in the middle of the street!
The Reason Behind the “City’s Ramen” Fame
During hot, summer days, the store’s electric fan tries its best to make the customers comfortable in all of that heat, but to no avail. During the cold, winter days, the counter is covered with vinyl curtains, but truthfully, the temperature inside doesn’t really differ much from standing in the cold outside of the store. So, we are puzzled – the ambiance being what it is, why is this ramen store still so well loved by its customers?
Also, don’t be much surprised if you hear stories about people who met famous musicians and such, while they were enjoying their late night (or super early morning) bowl of ramen because that is not a rare thing to occur here at Kinryu Ramen either.
Rather than making you shout “the greatest taste in the world of ramen!”, this ramen is said to have the power to make you come back to the store for another bowl every time it crosses your mind. It is “just the right speed and quantity” to eat in a few slurps when you’re feeling somewhat hungry, but are in a hurry or just in need of a quick meal.
Not only that, but the restaurant itself gives off the feeling it is a rightful, ideal member of this miscellaneous area. All these thoughts were running through our heads as we were delighting in our ramen – these are the charms that lure many visitors from Osaka and other cities to this shop.
Finally, a little bit of trivia on the side – did you know this restaurant makes an appearance in a world-famous game called Ryu ga Gotoku (Japanese), called Yakuza in English? The game’s version of the restaurant has the very same name, serves as a place to “restore your energy”, and is located at the imaginary city Sotenbori, based on Osaka’s Dotonbori.
It seems that the game’s restaurant was modeled after the store at Dotonbori, which has a quite unique, tatami-style interior. Nonetheless, both the city and the restaurant are created after a location and store that exist in the real world as well, so it should be exciting for those who take interest in the game itself to visit the "original versions".
Thank you for the delicious meal!
Kinryu Ramen Midosuji Store
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo, Namba 1-7-13
Hours: open 24/7
Accepted Credit Cards: None
Other Languages: English, Chinese, Korean (ticket vending machine menu)
Menu/Pamphlets in Other Languages: None
Nearest Station: Namba Station (Osaka Municipal Subway Midosuji Line)
Access: 10 minute walk along Midosuji from Exit 14 of Namba Station
Price: Ramen 600 yen; chashu-men 900 yen