Looking for a brilliant bowl of ramen while exploring Gion? Then head to Muraji for some chicken broth ramen served in surprisingly elegant surroundings.
The classic Muraji paitan ramen with all the fixings, plus extra – image © Florentyna Leow
“Paitan” is written with the characters for “white” and “soup,” and refers to an opaque, white bone broth style of ramen where the bones are simmered for hours until they break down into a milky broth. As a general rule of thumb, I am not the hugest fan of paitan-style ramen, as it’s often a little too thick for my liking. However, I am willing to make an exception for Muraji’s chicken paitan ramen, which is a chicken soup ramen bowl for the soul.
Muraji’s entrance is discreetly marked by white noren curtains. – image © Florentyna Leow
Ramen Muraji is located down a small side street in Gion, and the entrance is very easy to miss given that there is no English signage. Look out for the short white noren curtains hanging above the entrance, or just bring this photo with you as a guide!
Muraji is on a quiet side street in Gion, just south of the canal. – image © Florentyna Leow
It can be very busy on weekends or during peak travel season in Kyoto, with queues around the block, but on a September weekday at half past eleven, I was the first person there. If you’re able to drop by early, I’d certainly advise doing so.
A tastefully decorated interior befitting a modern cafe. – image © Florentyna Leow
Muraji is a refurbished machiya (old Kyoto wooden house), so unusually, there’s no counter seating. Everyone is seated around communal tables instead. Interior decoration-wise, it is rather understated, with elegant wooden furniture, paper lanterns and spare but beautifully-arranged branches in vases. With soft Bossa nova music in the background, it feels more like a cafe than your typical ramen joint.
The menu is written in three languages and has photos alongside. – image © Florentyna Leow
A charmingly-translated English, Chinese and Korean menu makes ordering super easy. And the super friendly waitresses will try to explain things as best they can! Their chicken paitan base is available two ways – flavored with shio (salt), or shoyu (soy sauce). The classic bowl does have chicken slices and bamboo slices, but I would recommend adding an egg or even more chicken for a more filling bowl.
I usually like my ramen flavored with shoyu, but decided this time that I wanted to taste the broth on its own merits. A salt-flavored bowl it was, with additional menma bamboo slices, chicken slices and a simmered egg – who could resist adding an egg to ramen noodles?
The lightly creamy sauces fit these thin noodles perfectly. – image © Florentyna Leow
Their shio-flavoured broth is fantastic, as are the thin, firm noodles. Though the broth has a lightly creamy, veloute-like texture, the salt-enhanced chicken flavor shines through beautifully. It’s rich, but not at all sludgy or overwhelming, unlike many paitan-style ramen bowls. It’s the kind of noodle bowl I want when I’m feeling under the weather, and need something warm, gentle and comforting. Chicken charshu slices are an excellent accompaniment here – a filling but not heavy protein component for the noodles.
I always pay special attention to the egg component in ramen, and I liked the egg at Muraji a great deal. Ramen eggs tend to be soaked in a shoyu-based marinade, but these had been coddled in a gentle dashi broth. In this case, it was a great choice – a standard soy egg would have clashed too much with the salt-spiked chicken paitan soup, which is the star of the show here.
No globs of fat floating on top of your ramen broth here! – image © Florentyna Leow
Another unusual touch here was the thin, deep-fried strips of burdock root. Bitterness is one element that’s often missing from ramen, and the herbal bitterness was lovely counterpoint to the soup. My only gripe is that the bamboo shoots were rather underwhelming and forgettable, so when requesting extra toppings I would skip these. A dash of red ichimi pepper, provided in small jars on the table, adds a welcome dose of spicy heat.
The ladies who run Muraji are absolute sweethearts and make fantastic ramen. If you’re in Gion and need a quick, delicious lunch – especially if it’s a little chilly out – this is the place to go.
Name in Japanese
373-3 Kiyomotocho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Mon – Sat 11:30 ~ 15:00 (L.O. 14:30); 17:00 ~ 22:00 (L.O. 21:30)
Sun, public holidays 11:30 ~ 20:00 (L.O. 19:30)
Read customer reviews of Ramen Muraji on TripAdvisor
About Florentyna Leow
Florentyna Leow is a writer and photographer based in Kyoto, who has written for outlets such as Silverkris, ZenVita and Lucky Peach. Her interests include food, doors, and Thomassons. Read her blog or connect with her on Instagram @furochan_eats.
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