Planning a trip in 2023 means spending a lot of time on TikTok looking at the suggestions and recommendations from other travellers. Ahead of my trip to Japan in October, my algorithm was about 80% Japan travel tips and I had amassed a long list of places that I wanted to check out, mostly interesting food places in the main cities I’d be visiting; Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
Another tip from TikTok was rather than having everything planned out in fine detail, to create a Google Map of the pinned locations of cool places, so you can see which locations are nearby and go with the flow a little more.
@miss_veraa I honestly think this is the most practical way to plan a trip #travelplanning #howtoplanatrip #traveltips ♬ Yacht Club – MusicBox
Here’s my map of places that I thought looked interesting, green icons are the ones which we visited over 16 days, and blue dots are places that I sadly didn’t get the opportunity to check out this time.
One of the places that I had no hesitation adding to the map was Oreryu Shio Ramen, purely to try the garlic butter cheese ramen. I’ll say that again: garlic butter cheese ramen. It’s a chain store, but each location seems to offer something slightly different, so we decided to go to what was described as the ‘main store’ in Shibuya, just a 10-minute walk from the famous intersection. Here’s the video that whetted my appetite for this.
@tinainmelb still not over this garlic butter cheese ramen 😭🍜 #oreryushioramen #ramen #japan #japantravel #japanfood #japanramen #tokyo #tokyoeats #tokyofood #shinjuku ♬ I Got It – thuy
Lots of things are different in Japan, and that includes how you order at a lot of restaurants. Oreryu Shio Ramen is one of probably hundreds of restaurants in Toko where instead of ordering at the table, you order at a vending machine. It took a moment to figure out the sequence of steps – insert money, make your selection, collect the ticket and then hand tickets to the server – requesting any customisations at that stage. We were warned that the garlic butter ramen was spicy, and when places warn you something is spicy it’s usually a good idea to listen, but we decided to go ahead anyway.
Our order consisted of two garlic cheese butter ramen with chicken karaage topping (bottom, below), shrimp wonton ramen (top right) and pork ramen (top left), and four of us shared a plate of shiso gyoza (not pictured because they disappeared too quickly!), everything washed down with an orange soda.
The food arrived quickly, far quicker than it has ever arrived in the UK. The Japanese people know that ramen is not a food to be lingered over, they’re in and out before the broth has had time to cool.
The chicken karaage was top-notch. Seasoned incredibly well and somehow still crispy despite being half submerged in the broth. The garlic butter was a great addition, thickening the broth and adding a lovely smooth texture. If I’m honest, I’m not sure what the cheese added, as it was quite mild and I couldn’t really taste it in the mix of other flavours. There were lots of pots of interesting-looking things on the table to add and customise the food, but I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try those on day one of the trip! It turns out that the spiciness was more a pungency from the intense garlic than a chilli type of heat.
Overall, I really liked the vibe of the restaurant and a particular highlight was when I somehow managed to spill water over two friends. In terms of the food, it was very well priced but I did feel that something was missing from the ramen – the noodles were the right hardness for me (firm) and the broth was flavourful, but after a while, everything just tasted of garlic (which I suppose being two days off Halloween was appropriate!).
If you’re in Shibuya and looking for a solid 7 out of 10 mean, then Oreryu Shio Ramen is worth adding to your map!