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Ramen Romance in Kyoto - The Halal Edition

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Sarifah Md Safi'ee  •  Dec 14, 2015

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It was not too long ago when a Muslim visitor's only encounter with ramen in Japan involved staring into a cup of halal instant noodles packed from home. Thankfully, we now have several halal options for this quintessential Japanese noodle dish. We were in Kyoto recently, and when best to savour an authentic bowl of piping-hot ramen than after a chilly day out visiting sublime temples and gardens. Here are two of our best recommendations for halal ramen in the ancient city of Kyoto! [iframe src="//giphy.com/embed/6rUFkGikou4GQ" width="350" height="260" frameBorder="0" class="giphy-embed" allowFullScreen][/iframe] P.S. If you’re heading to Kyoto, don’t forget to download our HHWT Travel Planner App to easily find the best halal food and prayer spaces! The app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android 🙆
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1. Halal Ramen Gion Naritaya
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Spicy miso ramen[/caption] This two-month old establishment may be new but it has racked up quite an impressive following. The restaurant was packed when we visited with more people waiting outside to be seated! The second Naritaya branch in Japan after the first in Asakusa, Tokyo , the restaurant serves a variety of additive-free and organic ramen dishes. A plus point for the health-conscious! [caption id="attachment_4015" align="alignnone" width="900"] 
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Spicy Miso Ramen (front) and Miso Ramen (back). The latter was a hit with the kids![/caption] [caption id="attachment_4016" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Don't you feel like sinking your teeth into that?[/caption] The miso ramen we tried had springy noodles and an excellent flavourful soup base derived from a blend of chicken, bonito and kelp. We finished slurping the whole bowl of soup, mind you! To be fair, the spicy miso ramen wasn’t exactly fiery spicy, but you could always up the burn level by adding more chili powder that's served on the table along with other condiments. [caption id="attachment_4017" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Condiments for that extra oomph[/caption] However, if you would like a non-soup based option, you can try the super-delicious mazesoba , which literally means "mixed noodles". The dish has hardly any soup at all but there are tons of toppings like seaweed, spring onions, boiled egg and roasted chicken. Plus it's also fun to eat, as you get to mix the whole thing up with the oil and sauce at the bottom of the bowl! Do note that you are allowed to ask for soup at the end of your meal, and if you wish, rice to go along with any leftover  mazesoba. Just ask the friendly staff! [caption id="attachment_4018" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Gion Mazesoba[/caption] Oh, and did we mention they also serve award-winning halal fried chicken? [caption id="attachment_4019" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Craving for that chicken karaage?[/caption] The superbly tender-on-the-inside but crispy-on-the-outside chicken karaage is made by Kyoto Umeshin, which won the gold medal at the 'Japanese Fried Chicken Grand Prix' three times in a row!  And if you didn’t get enough of them in one sitting, you're allowed take-outs too. [caption id="attachment_4020" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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The menu[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4021" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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You can add extra toppings to your ramen or make side orders too![/caption] One of the best parts of dining at Gion Naritaya is that they offer a prayer room and ablution facilities. What's more, they even have prayer times listed on the wall. So now, there's no need to worry about missing your prayers while feasting on yummy halal food in Gion! [caption id="attachment_4022" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Prayer room[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4023" align="alignnone" width="898"]
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Prayer times[/caption] And for those who absolutely can't live without Internet connection, there is free Wi-Fi here. Definitely two thumbs up! [caption id="attachment_4024" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Free Wi-Fi zone![/caption] [caption id="attachment_4025" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Gion Naritaya[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4026" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Counter seats[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4027" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Cozy seating for larger groups[/caption] For Reservations:  075-531-8200 (or message them via FB). Halal lunch box delivery is also available. Address: Ability Gion Building 1F, 424, Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0062 Directions: [iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3268.0378319473543!2d135.77463236524042!3d35.005758080357275!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x600108c20da8e3b5%3A0x2127ad89f81e410c!2zSmFwYW4sIOOAkjYwNS0wMDYyIEt5xY10by1mdSwgS3nFjXRvLXNoaSwgSGlnYXNoaXlhbWEta3UsIFJpbmthY2jFjSwgNDI0IOOCouODk-ODquODhuOCo-elh-Wckg!5e0!3m2!1sen!2s!4v1448931175627" width="325" height="270" frameborder="0" style="border:0" allowfullscreen][/iframe] Opening Hours: Mon – Fri, 11:00am – 10:00pm. Closed irregularly. Price:‎ ¥700 - ‎¥1700
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2. Ayam-ya
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Ramen with rich chicken broth (salt flavour)[/caption] Just like its namesake, Ayam-ya (ayam means chicken in Malay) serves mostly ramen in thick chicken broth. But don't let that discourage you because the chicken broth we tasted was umami perfection to the nth degree! It was simply the best ramen broth we ever had and we'd gladly fly to Japan again for just another addictive bowl! http://instagram.com/p/9-E1mFG--B/
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Credit:@currlyssa on Instagram We later learnt that the rich, MSG-free chicken broth, also known as tori-paitan , involves cooking chicken in boiling water for several hours. Collagen is extracted from chicken bones as a form of gelatin and then emulsified with chicken fat and water to lend a distinct milky look to the soup. Not only that, different kinds of vegetables are added for enhanced sweetness, and chicken feet too for extra collagen. In fact, it takes a whole chicken to make one bowl of ramen! Certainly an A for effort! [caption id="attachment_4005" align="alignnone" width="900"] 
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Menu at Ayam-ya[/caption] You can choose either soy sauce or salted flavour for your broth. We tried the spicy rich chicken broth for both flavours, and boy were we floored by the spiciness! We could feel the burn - just the way we like it!  Granted, they could be more generous with the toppings, but we really couldn't care less with THAT broth. We also highly recommend the free upsize to the large bowl, just so you can have more mileage for your broth. We promise you won't regret it! [caption id="attachment_4038" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Tori Char-siu Don[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4012" align="alignnone" width="800"]
Dipping ramen or tsukemen is a delicious option as an alternative to the soupy varieties :D[/caption] Credit: muslim's plate Besides hot ramen, the restaurant serves equally delish dipping ramen (served cold) and tori char-siu don that are also MSG-free! [caption id="attachment_4006" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Vending machine for food tickets. Pay for your tickets here and present your ticket to the staff to order your food.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4007" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Seating arrangement[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4008" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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 Just look out for the white Ayam-ya noren sign when finding your way here[/caption] On a final note, Muslim visitors will be happy to know that there is a prayer room available. And you might just want to give the owner a hug because the prayer room takes up almost half of the store! It's heartwarming to know that extra seats were sacrificed just to accommodate a prayer room for Muslims. [caption id="attachment_4009" align="alignnone" width="900"] 
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Male prayer room[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4010" align="alignnone" width="900"]
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Female prayer room. Prayer gown is also provided.[/caption] For Reservations: 075-344-1456 Address: 2-1-11, Mikatakonyacho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 600-8238 Directions: [iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3268.772368693751!2d135.7503619152399!3d34.98736608036186!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x600108a78d271bbd%3A0xcafa6983f0ac6fb8!2sMikatakonyacho%2C+Shimogyo+Ward%2C+Kyoto%2C+Kyoto+Prefecture+600-8238%2C+Japan!5e0!3m2!1sen!2s!4v1448943634502" width="325" height="270" frameborder="0" style="border:0" allowfullscreen][/iframe] Opening Hours: Mon – Sat; Lunch 11:30am – 2.30pm (last order); Dinner 6:00pm – 10:00pm (last order). Closed Sun and public holidays. Price: ¥380 –¥850
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So, what are you waiting for? Ditch the local ramen wherever you're at for these authentic ones and pack your bags to experience Kyoto like a local now! P.S. If you’re heading to Tokyo, don’t forget to download our HHWT Travel Planner App available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android! 🙆
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