Toyama Black Ramen and Where to Eat It
Toyama black ramen is one of Toyama’s regional specialties. Many restaurants in the prefecture serve black ramen, though of course, the taste varies from place to place. This round-up will give you a brief history of Toyama black ramen and four recommended restaurants you can try on your noodle journey.
* This article was adapted from work by a local reporter living in Toyama Prefecture.
1. Daiki: The birthplace of Toyama black ramen
Naturally, the birthplace of Toyama black ramen, Daiki, is at the top of this list. The dish was first served in 1947, designed with a rich soy sauce to supplement the sodium intake of laborers in the postwar period.
There are six branches of Daiki around Toyama Prefecture, meaning it’s easy to include on any itinerary. The main branch is in Nishicho, Toyama City, and numerous celebrities have visited over the years. There is also a branch at Toyama Station, inside the Toyomarche shopping center.
The station branch is easily accessible, so there should be no problem for customers entering with a stroller or wheelchair. There are 29 seats (17 at the counter and 12 at tables), and wheelchair users can dine without difficulty.
The restaurant has a simple menu with only Chuka soba (another name for ramen) and rice dishes available to order. The ramen and rice set is great if you’re particularly famished.
The Chuka soba dish at Daiki comes with black broth, thick noodles, bamboo shoots, chashu (braised pork belly), sliced green onions, and coarsely ground black pepper. Everyone has their own way of eating the noodles, but the restaurant recommends mixing the noodles and other ingredients until everything is well-coated in the broth before digging in.
Flavor intensity: 5/5
As expected of the original Toyama black ramen! Outstandingly rich!
Noodle thickness: 3/5
These straight noodles soak the soup right up.
Tenderness of the pork: 2/5
Accessibility: Located in a train station with accessible toilets.
In short, this restaurant is great for anyone who wants to enjoy the intense flavor of the original Toyama black ramen. Daiki and the Toyamarche shopping complex are located inside Toyama Station, with good overall accessibility.
The first Daiki to serve Toyama black ramen is in Nishicho, but the Toyama Station restaurant has a photo of the main branch on display, so you can sense its history from the convenience of the station. The restaurant also sells noodle goods that you can purchase to enjoy at home. For the authentic taste of the original black ramen, be sure to visit Daiki.
2. Darumaya Ramen: Over 50 years of history
The next shop on this list is the Kitadai branch of Darumaya Ramen in Toyama City, an authentic Toyama ramen restaurant with a history of over 50 years.
The two most popular dishes on the menu are the Ganso (meaning “pioneer” or “originator”) and the Young. The Ganso is said to have been on the menu of a diner that opened about 50 years ago, while the Young comes from the boom era of food stalls, when it was popular with young consumers.
Accessibility is a concern for many diners, so it’s wonderful that Darumaya Ramen in Kitadai has a ramp and handrails in place. Also, the chairs around the tables inside the restaurant can be moved to accommodate wheelchair users.
On the menu, you’ll find a clear explanation of the differences between the Ganso and the Young, as well as the particulars of Darumaya Ramen.
Fresh hand-pulled noodles, made to order on-site and using traditional methods, are one of the defining features of this restaurant.
Black ramen here goes by the name of Ganso or Young. The broth is on the light side yet still full of flavor, and the noodles are firm and chewy. These noodles undeniably have their own character and identity among Toyama black ramen.
Flavor intensity: 3/5
The delicious black broth is light enough to drink up after finishing the noodles.
Noodle thickness: 4/5
These freshly made hand-pulled noodles are firm and chewy.
Tenderness of the pork: 3/5
The mouthwatering slices have a certain firmness and are full of flavor.
Accessibility: Has a parking lot and a ramp.
Darumaya’s ramen is made with great care and consideration, offering the full package in visual composition and taste. If you want to savor the broth of Toyama’s black ramen, definitely try Darumaya Ramen.
The homemade gyoza dumplings are delicious, as is the seasoned egg presented in a cute little bowl with a Daruma doll motif. This restaurant offers something for customers of all ages. In fact, elderly patrons are among its regulars, proving that the Young noodle dish is good for any age.
Darumaya Ramen has two locations in Kitadai and Shinjomachi, both in Toyama City.
Darumaya Ramen Toyama Kitadai
Address: 5332 Kitadai, Toyama City, Toyama 930-0103
Open/Closed: Closed on Mondays (open on public holidays)
Phone Number: 076-436-3588
Parking: Yes (one accessible parking space available)
Darumaya Ramen Toyama Shinjo
Address: 2-1 Kamiiino, Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture 930-0827
Open/Closed: Closed on Mondays (open on public holidays)
Phone Number: 076-451-0058
Darumaya Ramen is a family enterprise headed by Mr. Ofusa Tatsuki, its third-generation owner. Besides serving dine-in ramen, Darumaya also offers noodle kits that customers can enjoy in the comfort of their own home, and even order online.
3. Ramen Makotoya: Takaoka’s black ramen shop
Ramen Makotoya in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture is a cozy store and always full of people. Most ramen lovers in Toyama know this shop by name.
The restaurant parking lot does not have an accessible parking space, so it’s best to park at the end of the lot if you need a little more space. There is a 15-centimeter step at the rear entrance, so it’s a good idea to go with a companion if you use a wheelchair.
The cheerful waitstaff will welcome you into the restaurant’s homey interior. There’s counter seating, table seating, and seating in the back that’s great for kids. The chairs at the tables can also be moved so you can eat easily in a wheelchair.
Ramen Makotoya has a menu full of variety that includes shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, ramen made with fish from Himi City, right on Toyama Bay, and tsukemen noodles made in a stone pot. You can choose small, medium, or large when ordering. There is also a wide selection of side dishes, including Toyama’s famous tororo kombu (grated yam and kelp) rice balls.
You can add a seasoned egg to your ramen for a small fee. The medium bowl of chashu pork noodles has three large pieces of pork so big that the noodles are barely visible beneath them. Ramen Makotoya’s rich broth goes well with the chunky, wavy noodles, which are smooth and easy to slurp up.
As you eat, the tender pieces of chashu fall apart and get mixed up with the noodles, making the ramen even more delicious. The soup may be a little on the salty side if you are not used to rich broth, but if you like a heavier broth, this is definitely one to try.
Watch the video to see how tender the chashu pork is!
Flavor intensity: 4/5
If you want to eat black ramen in Takaoka City, this is the place! The noodles with black pepper broth are also delicious.
Noodle thickness: 4/5
These thick, wavy noodles are extremely smooth and go down very easily.
Tenderness of the pork: 4/5
The pork is so tender that it crumbles when you pick it up with chopsticks.
Accessibility: The restaurant is wheelchair accessible, but you may need assistance to manage the step at the rear entrance.
If you want to eat Toyama black ramen in Takaoka, Ramen Makotoya is the place to go. You can also get there by tram, on the Manyosen Line from Takaoka Station.
Ramen Makotoya Takaoka Main Store
Address: 11-5 Takaramachi, Takaoka City, Toyama 933-0064
Open/Closed: Closed on Mondays
Phone Number: 0766-28-4009
4. Menpachi: A must-try for roast pork lovers
Last but not least is Menpachi in Otayamachi, Takaoka City. The owner of this restaurant trained at the main branch of Menpachi in Taikoyama, Imizu City, before being entrusted to open a new branch.
Menpachi is a long-established and popular ramen restaurant that has been around since before the term “Toyama black ramen” was even coined. It’s always crowded in the evenings because they also have an izakaya menu, so customers can enjoy ramen along with other food and drink.
There are no steps at the entrance of the restaurant, so it’s easy for all to enter. The only seating is at the L-shaped counter, but the counter is not too high and the chairs are movable so wheelchair users can be comfortably seated.
Inside the restaurant, you will be greeted by cute illustrations of the Great Buddha of Takaoka and autographs of athletes from the Tonami Badminton Club, a local team that the restaurant supports.
Menpachi’s lunchtime menu features only simple Chuka soba, but even the regular noodles come with a generous portion of roasted pork. For those who love roasted pork, you can’t go wrong with an extra helping. The large portion is a hearty dish that contains not just more noodles, but more pork, too.
On the izakaya menu in the evening, you can enjoy anbayashi (white konjac with miso) and kamaboko (cured fish cake), both Toyama specialties. The restaurant is a great place to try Toyama’s many different flavors in a single location.
The large bowl of Chuka soba comes with a heap of green onions, a delightful surprise for green onion lovers. The chewy, slightly soft noodles complement the peppery broth.
The broth has a clean and refreshing taste, and you can finish it all without difficulty. The noodles also change texture if you give them a good stir with the green onions.
Thick and tender pork is the house specialty at Menpachi. The pork is so soft and tender that you almost don’t even notice its thickness, every slice soaking up the flavorful broth. The balance between the meat and the broth is so amazing, making this ramen an unforgettable meal for those who love tender roast pork. The grilled pork also goes well with rice, so don’t miss out.
Flavor intensity: 2.5/5
The soy sauce is light and a little sharp. You’ll definitely want to finish the entire bowl of broth.
Noodle thickness: 3/5
If you like softer, chewy noodles, this is the restaurant for you.
Tenderness of the pork: 5/5
Thick and tender, with excellent seasoning leaving you with a strong impression.
Accessibility: The restaurant’s interior and exterior are both wheelchair accessible. There’s no private parking for the restaurant, but a public parking lot is available in front.
Among the restaurants serving Toyama black ramen, Menpachi has a rather gentle flavor that even children can enjoy. The roast pork is tender and soaks up a lot of flavor. If you want to make it richer, you can add more roast pork as you wish.
Menpachi is a great place to enjoy Toyama black ramen while having a drink or trying some other unique Toyama snacks. The restaurant is located about 10 minutes by foot from Takaoka Station, close to the Great Buddha of Takaoka. You can also get there on the Manyosen tram.
Menpachi has two stores in Toyama Prefecture: the Otayamachi branch in Takaoka City and the main Taikoyama store in Imizu City.
Menpachi Takaoka Otayamachi Store
Address: 9-14 Otayamachi, Takaoka City, Toyama 933-0029
Open/Closed: Closed on Wednesdays
Phone Number: 0766-24-7003
Parking: No private parking (Public lot available in front)
Menpachi Imizu Taikoyama Main Store
Address: 1-7-10 Taikoyama, Toyama 939-0362
Open/Closed: Closed on Mondays and Thursdays, third and fourth Sundays of the month
Phone number: 0766-56-6790
Takaoka Otayamachi Branch
Imizu Taikoyama Main Store
Ramen is considered one of the national foods of Japan, and Toyama black ramen itself has become a general term for this particular region’s style. However, each of the four restaurants profiled here demonstrates different approaches to and feelings for this quintessential ramen. With every bowl you eat, you can understand more about culinary craftspeople and ramen connoisseurs who are passionate about this food.
Of course, there are many more delicious restaurants in Toyama Prefecture that aren’t represented on this list, as this is just a starting point to inspire visitors to consider going on a Toyama black ramen tour of their own. We hope that the accessibility notes provided here will also be helpful.
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