Food

Osaka Ramen: Eclectic Takes on Japanese Favorites

June 5, 2019
Osaka ramen spread of food

It’s time for another installment of my self-appointed quest to find the Best Ramen in Denver. Although I had already tried the chicken shio ramen at Jeff Osaka’s joint, Sushi-rama, I could not resist an invitation to try some additional bowls at the original source of Chef Osaka’s ramen empire — Osaka Ramen in RiNo.

Please note: Financial compensation was not received for this post. I was invited by Osaka Ramen to come in for a meal on the house. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Decor

As natural daylight slips away from view with each successive step down the long flight of stairs that lead to Osaka Ramen’s dimly lit subterranean entrance, you get the feeling that once at the bottom you’ll may very well be thrown into a ramen gang initiation ceremony.

However, instead of being forced to win your right of passage into a clandestine ramen club, you’ll most likely be greeted by a chipper, welcoming host just inside the door asking how many people are in your group.

My favorite place to sit in the restaurant is the long rectangular communal table across from the bar. A row of stack-able colored school chairs – the hard plastic and steel type I recognized from my childhood – line either side of the table and serve as a hint of the playfulness that is also reflected in the food.

Food

We started off the meal with a number of appetizers, including the Okonomiyaki Fries ($6) which were enthusiastically recommended by our server. The dish, which essentially is a mountain of shoestring fries drizzled with an umami okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (bonito flakes), bares more resemblance to loaded fries that with its Japanese pancake namesake, but I dug it anyway because they were SO tasty.

Okonomiyaki fries at Osaka Ramen
Okonomiyaki fries at Osaka Ramen.

I actually liked it even more than real okonomiyaki, which I sometimes feel is overly heavy. Not that fries are “light” but I don’t know what else to say other than I loved them.

We also got an order of the Croquettes ($6) – which my husband positively cooed over. He loved them so much he actually finished the entire dish while I was still taking photos so I didn’t get to try them myself!

Colorful spread of food from Osaka Ramen
Food spread, including the Croquettes, top left.

As for the ramen, this time I tried the classic Tonkotsu pork broth ($14). I liked the meat – fatty, but had good flavor. The noodles were good as well, but I thought the broth slightly missed the mark on the layered punch of flavor I was looking for. I still prefer Chef Osaka’s chicken ramen version.

However, my husband got the Spicy Miso ($14), which features some spicy pork and kimchee, and he loved his!

Verdict

One of a handful of decent ramen joints in the Downtown Denver area, come to this restaurant for their fun, experimental appetizers and satisfying ramen. Expect speedy service and a no-fuss environment good for a casual dinner out in RiNo.

Best Ramen in Denver ranking

  • Broth flavor – 5 points
  • Protein quality – 4 points
  • Noodle quality – 4 points
  • Other ingredients – 3 points
  • Presentation – 2 points

18 points

Details

Osaka Ramen2611 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205

  • Decor: Fun, colorful, and casual with stenciled cityscapes on the walls and an adorable pig and chicken in a ramen bowl logo
  • Crowd: Couples, families
  • Recommended: Okonomiyaki fries, croquettes, chicken ramen

Have a recommendation for the next ramen joint in Denver I should try on my quest for the Best Ramen in Denver? Leave your picks in the comments!

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