Halal Ramen in Kyoto
A popular Japanese food, Ramen, is found in shops at every street corner in Japan. Mostly ramen is prepared in a broth that uses pork meat and broth from it, while in some shops chicken is often used. For Muslim tourists in Japan it is most unlikely to experience the flavours of a bowl of conventional Japanese ramen, since it is prepared using non-halal ingredients. Halal refers to food items that are permissible for consumption under the Islamic law. While non-halal includes pork, alcohol, etc. that are prohibited/forbidden from consumption. The chicken or beef used as ingredients also have to be halal i.e. it must come from a supplier who practices Islamic way of slaughtering and obtaining meat. Fortunately, Muslim tourists in Kyoto can experience a sumptuous bowl of ramen at two Japanese halal ramen restaurants: Narita-ya at Gion and Ayam-ya around the Kyoto Station.
Narita-ya is a ramen shop which originally comes from Asakusa, Tokyo. Started from October last year, they opened their branch in Gion, Kyoto. The place is located at the Shinbashi street, the eastern part of a famous and beautiful flagstone street known as Minami-Shirakawa-dori.
Narita-ya serves several choices on their menu of ramen and side dishes, but their signature is Gion Mazesoba (1200 yen). This ramen is an oiled noodle without soup but with chicken, egg, dry seaweeds (nori), and vegetables.
If you are quite hungry and tempted to try both the ramen and the side dish, do order the ramen set. My recommendation is Gion Mazesoba set (1700 yen), that includes Gion Mazesoba, a small size fried chicken (karaage), and orange juice. However, you can always order the side dish separately. Here, they have fried chicken (300-1000 yen) and stick shaped dumplings (500 yen), both of which are delicious and worth the try.
If you feel like eating ramen with soup, you need not worry. Narita-ya provides four choices of ramen with soup: soy milk ramen, miso ramen, shoyu ramen, and spicy miso ramen. If you like spicy food, do try their spicy miso ramen!
The great thing about Narita-ya is that they have a wide range of toppings on their menu that can be added to your bowl of noodles to add the extra flavours. You can also select the size of your ramen bowl: mini, regular, double, and triple. For Muslim tourists, the shop provides a praying room too. Although it is a small one, but in a country where Muslim population are a minority, Narita-ya praying room is really convenient.
Address: Ability Gion bldg. 1F, 424, Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0062
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 11:00 – 22:00
Ayam-ya is the first halal ramen shop in Kyoto which opened a year ago. Unlike Narita-ya, Ayam-ya's signature is its thick broth ramen. Here, they serve conventional ramen, dipping ramen (tsukemen), and dry ramen (mazemen).
When you enter the restaurant, you can choose your order from the menu list on the wall or directly order it in the ticket machine. Then, you should hand the ticket to the staff.
Should you have any difficulties in eating the ramen, Ayam-ya provides instructions and guidelines for eating your delicious bowl of ramen, the right way.
And here are the ramen choices! If you like a light tasting bowl of ramen like I do, please try their Tori Ramen Shio (680 yen). They also have the thicker broth version, called “Noko” Tori Ramen Shio (750 yen) and the spicy version, called Spicy Tori Ramen Shio (720 yen).
If you do not prefer having ramen in thick-broth, their dipping ramen (tsukemen) is a perfect choice. You can choose the size of the ramen bowl from regular to x-large. The cold noodle is served with a slice of lemon and a separate hot chicken broth to go with it. The lemon makes the noodle taste really fresh! When you finish with your noodle but still have some soup left, you can add the thinning broth and drink up the remaining soup.
Other than ramen and tsukemen, Ayam-ya also provides dry ramen (mazemen), called JKT Mazemen (800 yen). Mazemen is nice for those who prefer fresh ramen without thick broth, and for those who have a larger appetite or are really hungry because they provide additional rice alongside the ramen! So after finishing your noodles, you should mix the rice with the leftover topping, and then eat it.
Ayam-ya provides a spacious praying room for Muslim men and women. With a very friendly staff at your service, mouthwatering bowls of ramen serving all appetite, and good facilities, Ayam-ya is a really nice place to stop by when you are around the Kyoto Station.
Address: 3 Mikatakonyacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto 600-8238
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 11:00 – 14:00, 16:00 – 22:00
Holidays: Sundays and national holidays