The temperature is steadily dropping here in Takasaki. As the crisp night air of fall makes way for the dreaded karakaze of winter only one thing can drag me from the warm confines of my apartment (or my kotatsu). Ramen. I have been on the hunt for Takasaki’s best ramen shops for the past year, and I’m here to share them with you! My search started with Tabelog, a useful tool for finding all types of food throughout Japan. In addition to the dozens of ramen shops I have eaten at, I made sure to hit Tabelog’s top five ramen shops in Takasaki. Here are my top three favorite ramen shops in Takasaki.
Wanran (萬嵐) is located in Takasaki’s Yatai Mura. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Yatai Mura, it’s a collection of small food and drink stalls. Yatai Mura is an all-around great spot for a night out with friends. Wanran is a Taiwanese-style ramen stall. The menu features 10 different types of ramen all priced at about 800 yen. My personal favorite is the Tantanmen (担々麺 ) which is delightfully spicy. The default noodles are thin and a bit hard which gives them a nice texture and accentuates the flavor. The soup is rich without being too fatty, the flavor is balanced but forward. One of my favorite things about Wanran is that most of the ramen choices include a nice big helping of sautéed vegetables. The only downside about this place is the limited seating (fits about 6-8 people).
Shinasoba Nakajima (支那そば なかじま) is about half a kilometer from Kita-Takasaki station. It is currently rated as Takasaki’s number one ramen shop, and rightfully so. Chances are if you ask a Japanese friend for ramen recommendations in Takasaki this will be their answer. Shinasoba Nakajima is only open for lunch, if you go on a Saturday you will probably have to wait an hour or so before getting a seat (~12-14 seats available). Their menu options range from 680 to 900 yen. I suggest either the Shinasoba (支那そば) or the wantan soba (わんたんそば), and contrary to the name this is ramen – not soba. If I had to summarize Shinasoba Nakajima in one word it would be – balance. Everything is crafted to fit together in a delicate, palate-tantalizing package. This isn’t an explosive blast of flavor, it’s an experience. From the noodles which are made in-house, to the salty shoyu broth, to the lean and juicy pork slices – everything is in delicious harmony.
Last on my list of Takasaki’s best ramen shops is Daruma Taishi (だるま大使). The original Daruma Taishi is a bit out of the way, it’s roughly a kilometer from Gumma Yawata station. There is a branch restaurant closer to the center of Takasaki as well. Daruma Taishi is famous for its tonkotsu ramen, a thick and rich pork-bone based soup. I suggest the Daruma Chashu with Hakata noodles. Hakata noodles are Fukuoka’s gift to the world; they are very thin noodles which are often undercooked lending them a strong texture and nutty flavor. You can select how hard you want the noodles to be, I suggest harigane (ハリガネ). Daruma Taishi’s ramen is a massive explosion of flavor, it’s rich, salty, fatty, and hardy all at once. In my opinion, this is the perfect type of ramen for winter.
I want to give an honorable mention to Barikiya (ばりきや). It’s a chain that does Hakata style ramen and can be found throughout Gunma. I would recommend the Barikotemen (ばりこってめん). It’s not at the level of the shops I mentioned before but it never disappoints.
So next time you’re hungry after a nijikai or a long night of karaoke in Takasaki make sure to check out one of these shops!
Are you a ramen lover? Maybe soba is more your style? If you like food and would like to submit an article about delicious restaurants in your area please e-mail [email protected].Foodie, Restaurants