Three remarkable ramen shops in Spain, according to our traveling Japanese reporter

Ikuna has tried tons of Japanese restaurants in Spain… but these all stood out for very different reasons.

Our Japanese reporter who travels the world Ikuna Kamezawa is again. She got her vaccine and vaccination passport and followed all recommended and required precautionary measures, and has now been in Spain for about a month.

Being away from home for so long, her family and friends inevitably ask her, “Don’t you miss Japanese cuisine? “ But in Spain, the answer is in fact: “Not at all”. It is because the the big cities of Spain are full of sushi and ramen restaurants.

Since Ikuna has been in Spain for quite some time now, she has traveled through Barcelona and Madrid and tried all kinds of restaurants… and found three particularly notable ramen restaurants that she wanted to share with you.

1. Ramen Shifu in Barcelona

Ramen Shifu is actually a ramen restaurant chain which has stores in Madrid as well as Barcelona. It is quite a popular place that can get in lines on busy days.

The first thing that caught Ikuna’s attention at the Barcelona restaurant – aside from the sign outside that said “Ramen-san” in Japanese – was the little sign inside that read: “Omoid Yokocho” above. It looked like the sign leading to Memory Lane, the iconic little food stall alley in Shinjuku!

There was a neat array of noren banners hung across the space, advertising eel, okonomiyaki, sashimi and torimeshi (chicken and rice), although the restaurant didn’t actually serve any of these things.

There was full of little touches reminiscent of life in Japan, like the sign “Manga Cafe 1B” which appears to have been removed directly from the side of a building.

They even had a sign for “Muryou Annaijo “, which literally translates to “free orientation center,” but the advice provided at these centers in Japan relates to local hostess bars, erotic massage parlors, and other businesses in the fuzoku (entertainment for adults). Ikuna must have been wondering if they knew what this sign was for when they put it up.

A wall covered in wallpaper featuring a menu of mouth-watering bento offerings made Ikuna hungry, although they actually didn’t serve any of these items.

While there were a few misspellings and questionable signage – and a lot of misleading food signs – the restaurant clearly has put a lot of effort into making it seem like you’ve entered a Japanese yokocho alley, which really touched Ikuna!

So how about the food? Lunch was 11.95 euros (approximately 1,552 yen or US $ 13.86) and included a drink, a side dish, ramen and a dessert. Ikuna chose karaage like his side.

▼ The paper pouch for disposable chopsticks had “Enjoy your meal” written on it in Japanese. Ikuna couldn’t really fault this.

The karaage was ok. It looked like the one you might find in the frozen section of a Japanese supermarket; not the best, but definitely karaage.

Ikuna’s order of Shoyu Ramen definitely does the trick in terms of looks!

The noodles weren’t the best noodles Ikuna had ever tasted, and the soup wasn’t exactly as hot as she liked it, but it didn’t bother her too much. Since these were Spanish ramen, there was little point in comparing them to a ramen shop in Japan. She was just happy to be able to eat it!

The chashu, however, was a real winner. It was even better than some she had eaten in Japan. It was juicy and sweet and really delicious.

Once she swallowed it, her dessert arrived: a giant coconut mango jelly with tapioca balls.

All that, plus a beer, for 1,552 yen could make one ramen meal even cheaper than in Japan. In addition, the restaurant had the added bonus of playing an endless stream of Japanese idol music, which many Japanese otaku would appreciate. Using the Shazam song identification app, Ikuna was able to find out that they were playing music from artists like Necopla, KATACOTO * BANK, Planck Stars and SOL, all female idol groups. It was a bit like eating at a ramen shop in Akihabara, which wasn’t a bad achievement.

2. Muginoya in Barcelona

Muginoya, located in a quiet location just outside Barcelona city center, serves not only ramen but also Japanese favorites like katsudon, unagidon (eel on rice), fried rice, yakisoba, the grilled chicken and even the tofu fried tofu with dashi sauce). It looked more like an izakaya bar than a ramen shop.

The interior had a very retro atmosphere, Showa style.

It was also decorated with anime posters as well as banners for foods that were not on the menu.

They had lots of japanese sake, which was definitely a plus in Ikuna’s eyes!

The proposed restaurant a set of ramen at 10.50 euros, which included a drink and a side dish. The list of sides was quite impressive and included rice balls, spring rolls, gyoza, takoyaki, croquettes and teriyaki chicken.

Ikuna was running out of Japanese rice, so without a single hesitation she ordered the rice ball.

Although she would have preferred a plain rice ball, it turned out to be a tuna mayo onigiri– which was not terrible in itself, but the rice had a little too strong of a vinegar flavor, like they used sushi rice to make it.

Ikuna also ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen advertised on a sign in the restaurant. it looked really good !!

The flavors, however, were obviously not inspired by Japanese cuisine. The chashu pork had a strong star anise flavor and the broth had an unexpected kick. It was also garnished with cilantro! But while this was by no means the typical tonkotsu ramen, it was still really tasty. It was definitely something Ikuna would come back to eat again!

By the way, the music at this restaurant was old-school Japanese pop, with artists like Class, Naotaro Momoyama, Southern All Stars, and Sukima Switch. They were all nostalgic songs for Ikuna, which made her feel at home in an izakaya in Tokyo.

3. Ra-men Kagura in Madrid

This ramen shop has four channels in the city of Madrid, and a more than 10,000 reviews on Google. Even Ikuna’s host Diego eats there often! Naturally, Ikuna must have visited a restaurant that received such ardent support from its customers.

Ikuna arrived just 10 minutes after the restaurant opened, but half of the seats were already full. By the time she left, a line had formed. It is definitely a popular place!

The interior of the shop was very discretly, especially compared to others. There was actually a really realistic atmosphere.

There was just the right amount of Japanese touches.

Some of their most popular dishes aren’t actually ramen, but their karaage meal and their curry. Ikuna also noticed that a lot of customers around her were ordering the takoyaki, which she found interesting.

But Ikuna had come for some ramen, so she ordered the Tonkotsu Miso Ramen, which came as a set with a drink for 10.50 euros. And it was…

Really incredibly good!

The flavors were completely Japanese and super authentic.

The the chashu pork and the boiled egg were particularly good quality, as good as the best quality you will find in Japan.

If the food at Ramen Kagura is that good, Ikuna thought. she could live in Spain forever without missing out on Japanese food at all. In addition, the music was particularly good, featuring a nice mix of J-pop hit songs from the 90s until today, including Mika Nakashima, Yumi Matsutoya, Mayo Okamoto, and Hana * Hana, which made Ikuna feel like she was truly at home.

Although some things are a bit strange for her, Ikuna will continue, as always, her quest to find the best Japanese food wherever she is, whether in Spain, India, Paris or elsewhere. Whether in terms of atmosphere, decorations, food or music, there is always something to cure her of homesickness one way or another!

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