Arashi’s Ramen (嵐 ラーメン)has vegetarian ramen for a limited time!

Arashis is a well know ramen chain in Japan. While meat easters love their garlic fried rice and porky ramen (both great!) if you want to stick to the vegetarian side you have been limited; however, for a limited time they have vegetarian ramen!

After our trip to the new DMM Kariyushi Aquarium we worked up a hunger; while the mall had lots of options, we had read that Arashis has a limited time vegetarian option and so headed to the one close to the mall. After pulling into the parking lot that was a little too small for easy parking, we went in, ordered from the ticket vending machine (the staff offered us English menu, but we came in knowing what we wanted!) We ordered two vegetable ramens and one vegetable gyoza plate (came with 5 gyozas). Chris ordered a spicy habanero topping (Order the generic topping ticket for ¥120, then tell the staff Habanero when they ask which one, or whichever topping you like!)

After a small wait the food was delivered! The bowls were brimming with veggies and both the noodles and gyoza had a green tint. The green is from spirulina, a type of seaweed that doesn’t have a strong taste.

It’s really good. The noodles are tasty, although they may be a little soft for those that like their noodles al-dente (not sure if this is due to the make up of the noodle, or if ours were a little extra done). The broth was salty and flavorful, just as you’d expect from a ramen broth. The best part: Only 411 calories for the whole bowl! This is about half a regular ramen bowl.

The gyoza were good as well, sadly you can only see the corner of them in the middle picture above, the insides had soy “meat” and veggies. Quite tasty but next time I’d skip them as the ramen was more than enough to fill us up!

We highly recomend it while they have it! If it sells well I’m sure it will return. No doubt this campaign was set up to provide vegetable options to the many expected foreign guests during the Olympics, of course they were postponed due to covid-19 , but we can still enjoy it if you are already in Japan. This is not just in Okinawa, Arashi locations nation wide have these noodles!

Info Box

Place name: Kagetsu Arashi

Location: Nationwide chain, we went to this one in Tomigusuku:

Price: Ramen about ¥880, Goyza around ¥350

Another Vegan Ramen option in Okinawa: Orange Shokudo

Update: Orange Shokudo has closed in Naha and moved to Kin. Just opened as of Feb 2020 there are two! vegan ramen places in the basement of the old mitsukoshi building on Kokasai in Okinawa’s own Ramen Street

Today started as any normal Sunday. It is the monthly Sunrise Market in Naha, and my husband wanted to go. So we set off and parked our car in the Noren Plaza のうれんプラザ as is our usual spot. The monthly market is quite nice and we always find some ono grinds here. Anyway, after we wandered (and ate) through the market, we walked around Naha for a bit before heading back to the car. When we returned to the Noren Plaza, a restaurant called オレンジ食堂 (Orange Shokudo) on the second floor had a sign with something strange that caught my eye.

“Vegan black sesame ramen”

I was surprised, so I stopped and inspected further; while this place had meat options, it also had VEGAN options (black sesame, gold sesame, and a regular sesame broth, as well as spicy, little spicy, and no spice). When I first saw the sign I thought maybe it was a mistake, but for sure, I asked the owner and he seemed pleased to say that Yes, he has vegan options. This was crazy, and despite already eating lunch, well, I just had to try this! So I convinced my husband to split a bowl.

When it came out, he gave as an extra bowl, spoon, and chopsticks. He also brought out vinegar and extra spice, as well as an extra bowl of rich black sesame sauce so we could add more.

Delicious. I rarely get to eat ramen as there is pretty much never a vegetarian or vegan option. And while the Okinawa vegan scene is on the rise, the only places I knew of previously were Stripes (not very good) and Rakurobi Kitchen (doesn’t always have it available). So today I got delicious ramen and another place to bookmark for a visit when I feel like a bowl of ramen!

I had never heard anyone mention this place before, and even on GoogleMaps there was not mention of the vegan options. Perhaps it is a new menu he is trying out, and I hope it stays. I hope the vegans living in and visiting Okinawa can all give Orange Shokudo their business!


**Second floor of Noren Plaza Shopping Center

In Kin Town

Vegan Ramen in Okinawa

UPDATE March 2020: Only a few short years ago Vegan ramen was rare, now there are several! : Sora No Ira & A Hokkaido ramen, both in the Noren Plaza Ramen street! Also Orange Shokodu in Kin town.

There is a place called Stripe Noodles in Chatan, Okinawa (outside of the American Village area) that serves a type of vegan ramen (in addition to several meaty ramen types, predominantly know for their “steak ramen”).

This place is very Americanized and a significant majority of the customers are foreigners, especially American. It becomes obvious when you are eating your noodles and NO ONE is slurping, not even a tiny bit! I found it eerie to be honest, and made me wonder if I was even in a ramen shop… Later it occurred to me that the other Americans may have been horrified at my slurping manners, just the same as I was horrified at their complete lack of slurping manners.

Anyway, during the month of October, they serve pumpkin (kabocha かぼちゃ) “ramen” and year-round they serve a tomato-based ramen (also vegan). Since vegan/vegetarian ramen is extremely rare in Okinawa and Japan, it is good for people with dietary restrictions.

I have only tried the pumpkin “ramen.” I put it in quotes because… well, it wasn’t really like ramen. It tastes pretty decent, but I feel it is a stretch to really consider it ramen. The “broth” was really thick and sweet like a typical kabocha soup; I thought maybe it would be better if it was a little thinner it would feel more like a ramen. It was also lacking something to sort of balance out the sweetness. Though the noodles were surprisingly fairly good– chewy consistence and not overcooked or bloated like I feared they might be going into an Americanized place.

Overall, it was okay. Not amazing, but the taste was okay, and the price not unreasonable (though perhaps a bit high for typical ramen). Mostly, I would say it was the atmosphere that was lacking. But maybe that makes me like a crotchety old man, who just prefers the darker interior noodle shops with din of clanking and slurping and ramen chefs continuously calling out.

I haven’t tried the tomato version yet… maybe I will try to go back sometime and try. But first I will need to muster up the courage to return to a noodle shop where there is no slurping.

The ticket machine menu is extremely English-friendly and there is parking in front of the store.

If you are still looking for another vegan ramen, then check out Rakurobi kitchen, macrobiotic cafe:楽ロビkitchen; they have a version of vegan ramen on their menu. They are not ramen specialists, but rather a macrobiotic and healthy food cafe. **New: Check out Orange Shokudo for vegan ramen: Another Vegan Ramen option in Okinawa: Orange Shokudo


**BONUS: While out shopping I found vegan ramen to make at home at my local SanA grocery store. I was surprised, as occasionally I see instant vegan ramen at HappyMore or Pals farmer market stores, but it is not commonly seen here in Okinawa.


Ramen Chocolate Bar: Ikeman Thunder イケ麺サンダー

イケメン ikemen: “cool guy”

麺 men: noodle

イケ麺 ikemen: a play on words of “cool guy” and noodles.

ブラックサンダー burakku sandaa: Black Thunder, a popular (and cheap) chocolate bar in Japan

So who doesn’t love ramen and chocolate? Well, actually I am not a huge fan of chocolate, and do not eat a lot of ramen since it is typically meaty. But I digress.

I couldn’t help but feel a little curious when I saw these candy bars sitting in the conbini. It was cheap, only 40 yen.

Snack ramen スナック麺 is a popular crunchy treat (well maybe among students)… basically just dried and seasoned ramen noodles. So a popular candy bar, Black Thunder, created a new treat “Ikemen Thunder” イケ麺サンダー. It has a cheesy looking “ikemen/cool guy” on it, and is similar to regular Black Thunder with the addition of snack noodles inside instead of cookie.

Well… it’s kinda good. It is sort of salty combined with sweet. Though after just the one I felt a little sickly sweet. I enjoyed the crunch of the noodles, though there was kind of a weird “ramen soup flavoring” aftertaste that lingered. By the way, not actually suitable for vegetarians due to the snack ramen being flavored with chicken and pork extracts. To be honest, I tend to ignore many of these things otherwise I would never get to try new things.

In Okinawa, this ikemen thunder candy bar is only available at FamilyMart. There are 3 different packages with “cool guys” on them (all the same inside).

Demon Ramen in Okinawa: ラーメン鬼蔵

Ramen Onizo ラーメン鬼蔵 is located in Nago (northern part of Okinawa). The name caught our eye, since 鬼 oni means “demon.” The name of the shop, onizo 鬼蔵, literally translates to demon warehouse. My husband saw a TV program once featuring a shop in Tokyo called Oni Ramen that served a really spicy ramen; since then he dreams of tasting “oni ramen.” So when I saw the name of the shop, I realised we should try it, even though it is not the same as the one in Tokyo. After all, whenever you see “oni” and “ramen” together you know there is going to be spicy ramen.

Of course, it was a bit late so we showed up to the shop 20 minutes before closing (closes at 9pm), but we were not the only ones. There is a ticket machine at the shop door with various options (menu/ticket machine is in Japanese, but someone said there was an English translation available if needed); my husband obviously chose the aka-oni ramen 赤鬼ラーメン (red demon ramen) with the highest spicy level. I chose miso ramen, unfortunately a little too much pork for this person who doesn’t eat meat.

At the tables were bowls of garlic cloves and a garlic press. Our ramen came out quickly, and of course I added some garlic. My husband said his was not spicy enough; probably it was the end of the night and they did not make it the actual high spicy level. That being said, there were plenty of spicy condiments on the table for my husband to add, and he was happy enough with the taste. We slurped up our noodles and broth, finishing as they closed up shop.

address: 沖縄県名護市城2-5-20

Sapporo: 札幌 (part I)

We took a 3-day trip to Hokkaido, stopping over in Sapporo overnight, then continuing on to Jozankei Onsen. It was October, so the weather was crisp, and the leaves were turning!

We arrived Friday night in Sapporo; our bags came quickly and we jumped onto the JR train from the airport to the city. IC cards are accepted here, so I used my PASMO without worrying about separate train tickets. The ride was not so short, maybe about 45 minutes.

We made it to our cheap hotel just south of Susukino area, checked in, and got ready to see the nightlife. We decided to walk from our hotel up towards Sapporo station area, even though it was a bit chilly. Most of the tourist sites were closed at this time, but we could at least enjoy the views. We walked by Odori park, Sapporo TV tower, Sapporo clock tower, the Sapporo Beer Hall… and stopped for some famous Sapporo miso ramen topped with corn and butter for dinner! We passed by the touristy “Ramen Alley,” but continued on to a smaller place out of the way, which happened to be quite popular with the local crowd.

The next morning, we got up early and ate hotel breakfast which came with the room; this is very popular in Japan unlike the US, so consider trying the hotel breakfasts.. it is nothing like the stale pastry and cereal that make up the typical “continental breakfast” at many budget US hotels. Afterwards, we walked to the Nijo seafood market and back to Odori park for some day time photos. The leaves in Sapporo were only just starting to turn, but it was lovely anyway.

At this time, we needed to check out and pick up the rental car… time to drive to Jozankei!

Our time in the city of Sapporo was wayyy too short! We have already decided we need to go back another weekend. Maybe when the weather warms up…

continued in Part II, Jozankei Onsen.

For more trip photos, go to the imgur album here.


Tantan men (spicy ramen): 担々麺

担々麺 (tantanmen) or 坦々ラーメン (tantan ramen) is a popular “Chinese-style” noodle dish in Japan. It is typically seen as ramen (but occasionally as tsukemen, aka dipping noodles). It is often found at ramen and Chinese restaurants. A few shops in Okinawa will advertise it as a specialty dish of the shop. I know of quite a few shops with tantanmen not far from my area. I frequently see banners outside of ramen shops advertising tantanmen.

Tantanmen usually has a spicy broth with thick sesame taste, topped with minced pork and green onions. It is supposedly Sichuan-style, although Japan often tones down the spicy levels and focuses more on the rich, sesame qualities of the broth.

Some of the better places in Okinawa to try tantanmen (I will try to add some more restaurants):

坦々亭 Tantantei, Ginowan:

ラーメン工場無双 Ramen Factory Musou, Ginowan:

あけぼのラーメン Akebono Ramen, Naha:

燕郷房 YanKyouFan, Naha:

*Arashi ramen 嵐, Stripe ramen, and Tenkaipin ramen 天下一品 are very popular with Americans, most likely due to the fact they have English menus and are close to American bases. I do not tend to patronize these places, but many other people seem to enjoy them, so decide for yourself if you want to check them out. My husband says the fried rice at Arashi is pretty good. Both Arashi and Tenkaipin are large restaurant chains from the mainland. I am not sure on the menus, but I am fairly certain they have tantanmen, or some variation.

Street Food: 屋台

屋台 yatai are small street stalls typically only open at night. It is a small wooden structure with curtains, and inside is a counter for customers to sit around while the owner(s) cook and prepare dishes. And as with most things Japanese, alcohol is often involved.

These are not common in Okinawa, unfortunately (there is one small “yatai mura” 屋台村 where there are about a dozen clustered together on a street in Naha, here). However, in Fukuoka (the site of my most recent adventure) they line the streets around train stations and canals  in the evening.

We saw the most famous Kokin-chan 小金ちゃん, but the line was very long so we searched around and came to Yosaku 与作. It had a Japanese-only menu, and while still in the touristy area, a bit removed from the ones aimed solely at gaijin. My very tall husband and I took an awkward seat. I read the menu, and noticed this sort of savory pancake looking item on another customer’s plate. It looked oishii, so I asked “sumimasen, nandesu ka?” while pointing. She pointed at 山芋ネギ焼き on the menu, assuming I would not understand the answer. So I read it, turned to the owners and ordered (in Japanese) 1 regular ramen ラーメン, 1 yaki-ramen 焼きラーメン, 1 yama-imo negi yaki 山芋ネギ焼き and 2 bottles of beer ビール. The other Japanese folks decided to clap, I guess they were surprised. I feel like plenty of gaijin can speak Japanese, and mine is barely passable, but it is pretty much always a shock to 日本人 Japanese people. Anyway, when we got our beers, everyone kampai’d us and we spent an enjoyable time eating and drinking with the customers next to us.

If you find yourself in Fukuoka past 6pm, be sure to wander the streets near the train station and pop into one of these small stalls (avoid the canal area, it is mostly geared towards foreign tourists). Each one has different specialities, although Hakata ramen is available at pretty much all of them. Order a drink and some food, then slowly soak in the evening with the other patrons. It is a sort of quaint and unique experience that shows the real feeling of Japan.

Fukuoka also has some nice gardens where you can have tea during the day: here.