Explore the Many Flavors of Kobe’s Noodle Road
While Kobe may be most famous around Japan and around the world for its beef, there are many other fantastic food options in the port city. Aside from Kansai’s regional staples like okonomiyaki and takoyaki, Kobe also has many delicious ramen shops. For travellers who may be looking to stay inside and out of the elements in the hot summer or cold winter, for those who are looking for convenience and accessibility, or for those who would like to try various types of noodles in a confined area, Kobe’s Noodle Road (麺ロード), located inside of Sannomiya’s Santica is the perfect destination. Featuring four very different noodle shops and an ever-changing menu to match Japan’s changing seasons, Noodle Road is easily accessible from all trains that stop in Sannomiya.
Getting to Noodle Road is very easy. Once you have passed through your train’s ticket gates, follow the signs that point you towards Kobe’s underground labyrinth of shops and stores, Santica. Once you have arrived in Santica, keep your eyes up and follow the signs that lead you to exit A6 or A7. Looking for these Noodle Road-specific signs will also guide you on your way.
Noodle Road will be underneath these signs and inside the sliding doors to your right or left, depending on whether you chose to go towards to exit A6 or A7.
Situated underneath the red-lit ceiling panels, Noodle Road’s four noodle shops set themselves apart from each other based on their specialty menus and their noodle offerings.
Each year, all of Noodle Road’s shops have a different theme behind their dishes. The theme from February 20, 2015, until February 16, 2016, is “The new world of ramen starting in Kobe” (神戸から始まるラーメンの新たな世界), or the “Pursuit of ramen’s new possibilities” (ラーメンの新たな可能性を追求). Inside of each annual “season,” each shop on Noodle Road also changes their menu three times a year to showcase new flavors or to match their tastes to Japan’s changing seasons.
Here is how Noodle Road’s four shops looked on January 30th.
After taking a look at all four ramen shops’ menus, I sat down at the ramen shop which I photographed last, Choboichi. This shop specializes in lighter, white-based, ramen broth.
With a green tea in my right hand, I perused Choboichi’s menu and ordered their newest menu item, Chicken Kuroyu Ramen (鶏がら黒湯), with thin noodles. I was drawn to this dish because it was topped with a large helping of one of my favorite Japanese vegetables, Japanese mustard greens (水菜).
The mild soup and noodles went down easily with the shop’s complimentary tea. Fortunately I did not stain my shirt as I slurped down every savory bite of this bowl of chicken ramen.
Noodle Road is not strictly for ramen and also features other types of noodles. At other shops, Season 6’s featured dishes include mixed soba with meat and vegetables (まぜそば), soba with fried vegetables, and soy sauce-based ramen.
Kobe’s Noodle Road, located near exits A6 and A7 of Sannomiya’s Santica, conveniently offers four different kinds of noodles within minutes of all of Sannomiya’s major train stations. With a rotating menu throughout the year, Noodle Road is a good stop for the traveler or Kansai resident who finds him or herself in Sannomiya from time to time throughout the year.
For more information on Noodle Road, its restaurants, and seasonal variations, check out their official website (Japanese only).