Synonymous with one of Japan’s three best wagyu beef, Kobe beef, the city of Kobe offers more than just beef. While many Kobe restaurants do offer Kobe beef on their menus, Kobe also offers a wide variety of Japanese cuisine that attracts foodies from all around the globe.
As one of the most popular and well-loved Japanese foods, ramen is especially popular in Kobe, and in recent years has been the go-to comfort food for many Kobe residents and visitors alike. While Kobe’s ramen stores do not possess a singular defining trait that categorizes them as regional to Kobe by any means, they are distinctively and uniquely “Kobe ramen” in their own manner, with each ramen store bringing to the forefront aspects that are incomparable with other ramen stores across Japan. Take a slurp through our Kobe ramen guide and perhaps you’ll stumble upon your new favorite dish among these best ramen in Japan.
Here are some fantastic Kobe ramen shops to visit in Hyogo's capital city!
Nestled in a hidden food enclave just minutes away from Kobe Station, Ramen Kai’s most popular bowl of ramen is its niboshi tsukemen, touted as one of the best ramen in Kobe. The noodles are thick, curly, and springy, and are perfectly complemented with a thick dipping sauce, allowing every strand to be coated evenly with the sauce during each dip. Ramen Kai also infuses yuzu vinegar into its broths and dipping sauces. In spite of the seemingly awkward combination, the hint of yuzu was astonishingly refreshing and provided a unique tang, which also served to ensure that the sauce was not too heavy or overwhelming in flavor.
The pork-chicken broth ramen is also made from a dashi that ensures a mouthful of umami with every slurp. Despite being a heavy-bodied broth, the flavors are not too overpowering, ensuing in a strong stream of customers regularly coming back for more.
Run by an elderly couple, this unassuming ramen store is a short walk away from Hyogo Station. One of those "patronized-only-by-locals" ramen places, the homey atmosphere and friendly old lady who ushered us in ensured that our experience there was nothing short of welcoming. Although there are no English menus available, the small store only serves miso-based ramen and homemade gyoza, which helpfully narrowed our selections down. The miso ramen was deliciously full-bodied, and aptly paired with thin springy noodles, accompanied by thinly sliced rare pork. While you can choose to simply have a bowl of miso ramen,
Miso Ramen Satsuki offers you the option to pair your meal with a platter of gyoza and a bowl of rice. It was clear why most customers were fans of the set - once you are done slurping all the noodles up, having rice soak up the rest of the leftover soup is perhaps the only satisfying way to conclude such a hearty meal. Miso Ramen Satsuki only operates for a couple of hours each day, so make sure you check their opening hours before paying them a visit.
Tucked neatly away in the basement of Sannomiya’s San Plaza, Metro Ramen is perhaps one of Kobe’s best kept secrets. It is easy to miss this hole-in-the-wall restaurant if one is not observant. But upon locating the store, a peel-away of the store-front curtains reveals an interior that is clean, modern, and sleek, qualities that are similarly reflected in the bowls of ramen the lone chef serves up.
This hidden gem offers a selection of ramen with broths that are incredibly light, yet boast rich umami flavors. The duck ramen is especially popular for its savory soup base, but Metro Ramen’s soy sauce ramen is just as popular amongst ladies here too. Instead of rich and fatty slices of pork, Metro Ramen chooses to use lean pieces of meat to complement its light broths, making it easy for customers to return daily for a bowl without worrying about a heart attack on the horizon.
Ramen Taro is bound to pop up in any conversation apropos of Kobe ramen. Ramen Taro has a couple of outlets in Kobe, but its main store (honten) in Sannomiya is by far the largest, with a much larger seating capacity. Ramen Taro offers a variety of different ramen, in addition to seasonal flavors they introduce occasionally. One of their most popular flavors on their permanent menu is their tomato curry ramen. While the combination might sound weird, the marriage of the two strong flavors work to round each other off, and the deep earthy flavor of curry is perfectly balanced by the bright tanginess of the tomato.
The shoyu ramen was another surprisingly unique bowl, with a thickened shoyu broth that almost borders on being gravy-like. Ramen Taro also serves up thick pieces of fatty pork instead of thin slices, to give you a sinfully oleaginous mouthful with every bite, that we will happily indulge in over and over again.
Known for their shoyu ramen, Kogaryu Seimen believes in using only the best quality ingredients for their dishes. Their noodles are made from locally-sourced wheat, and their chicken are likewise organically sourced from local farms. What really sets Kogaryu Seimen apart from other ramen stores in Kobe is their bowls of tsukemen. Although tsukemen is usually accompanied by a thick dipping sauce which is almost gravy-like, Kogaryu Seimen’s bowls of tsukemen are served with unique dipping sauces with a thinner consistency, that is almost akin to a broth. The pork bone tsukemen was creamy yet mellow in flavor, with a sauce that could easily have been mistaken for a soup of tori paitan.
The true unique star of the store, however, was their shoyu tsukemen. Shoyu ramen are typically presented as soup-based dish, so it was a surprise to see shoyu tsukemen on the menu. The shoyu tsukemen’s dipping sauce was similar in texture to its counterpart, the pork bone tsukemen, and is similarly less viscous in texture but rich and heavy in flavor and umami. If you’re a lover of shoyu ramen and tsukemen, this is one Kobe ramen you cannot miss!
Shirusoba begins its day only from 5:00 pm onwards to serve the evening crowd, and for good reason. They offer hearty flavorful bowls of pork-chicken ramen, the perfect comfort food for nights when your soul requires soothing after a long day of toiling away at work. Their bowls of ramen are topped with a nice heaping of fresh spring onions and large chunky pieces of pork, with a good ratio of lean to fatty meat.
Shirusoba offers three different styles of tori paitan - red, black and white. The white bowl promises a flavorful shoyu broth ramen, which manages to be rich in flavor despite its light-bodied broth; and the red bowl offers a peppery kick to those who desire something spicier. The star bowl, however, is definitely the black bowl, which presents a creamy and thick broth, topped with a generous heaping of garlic oil. The broth borders on lardaceous, but it certainly does not taste as greasy as it looks nor is it overwhelmingly rich. A taste of this luscious broth will guarantee you coming back for more sips.
Nestled in the back alleys of Sannomiya and open till late, this Kobe ramen shop is also extremely popular with workers and colleagues after a night of nomikai.
Situated in the center of Sannomiya’s San Plaza, Makkana Ramentomako is hard to miss. As a tomato ramen shop, it goes without saying that they offer a variety of tomato-based ramen and dishes. They offer a tsukemen-style tomato sauce dipping ramen, tomato broth ramen, tomato curry ramen, and tomato hotpot as well. Don’t miss their classic tomato soup-based ramen with melted cheese on top. If you are a tomato lover, digging into the thin al dente noodles and tangling those with a mouthful of melted salty cheese would be pure bliss.
You can also order an extra bowl of rice after you’ve finished your noodles and add it to your leftover bowl of soup to savor a tomato risotto-like dish. The flavors here are refreshing and bright, while simultaneously managing to be savory at the same time. Whichever type of ramen you order, your bowl of tomato ramen is sure to hit the spot for you.
The next time you visit Kobe and are wondering what to eat in Kobe besides beef, check out our list of the best ramen stores in Kobe. We’ve rounded up some of the best ramen stores here in Kobe, that are sure to leave you feeling like ramen will be the only men you’ll ever want.