best ramen

Tensai Ramen (Rotterdam, Netherlands): Handmade Noodles in the Center of Rotterdam


I remember in our early explorations of Rotterdam, the Ramen Marauder and I were on the tram heading back home. We passed the sign for Tensai Ramen, and we quickly saved it on our Google maps. Later, it popped up on my Instagram newsfeed from Liyen Food Moments, and recently Lazy Pig Passion mentioned they are making a video about Tensai.

It was all promising information. People were raving about the newly opened ramen shop and only had good things to say.

Tensai Ramen Restaurant Black Tonkotsu Noodles Rotterdam Netherlands Holland

What made me less eager to try it were the pictures of the noodles. Why weren't they yellow? Why didn't they look curly and springy? I had read that they were made in the shop, but I just wasn't convinced by the photos that these noodles were worthy of my attention.

But since when did food photography become the authority on what to eat? I kept reading that these noodles had great texture, and that this is quickly becoming a favorite spot in Rotterdam, so we checked it out.

Tensai Ramen Restaurant Interior Rotterdam Netherlands Holland

At this bustling intersection by the Beurs train station, Tensai Ramen has large windows that keep the noise to a minimum. The inside is modestly decorated, with (as seemingly always) a handful of tables.

We went around 4 p.m., when the restaurant was at a lull. By the time we left, however, the tables were filling up quickly, and some were eager to take our table.

Tensai Ramen Restaurant Black Tonkotsu Noodle Soup Rotterdam Netherlands Holland


Look at this bowl of black tonkotsu ramen noodles. When I look at this picture, I see that perfect little soft boiled egg nestled in a bed of broth, the corn gently sprinkled across the bottom of its yolk. A couple strips of bamboo lay beside it, sharing a piece of nori like a pillow, resting on a bed of noodles. It's peaceful, like the calm before the storm of my spoon and chopsticks coming to destroy.

This is a bowl of ramen that you will want to savor. Enjoy a spoonful of just broth, then maybe a pinch of noodles, followed by a spoonful of broth, noodles, and a few kernels of corn. Take a moment to appreciate the texture of the bamboo and the black mushrooms, contrasted with the crunch of the corn and the spring of the noodles.

I always try to save the egg towards the end of my ramen experience because I want to savor the richness the yolk adds to the broth. Sure, I could beat it up with my chopsticks and mix it into the soup to be enjoyed throughout the meal, but more often than not, I just can't. The few bites I was able to take of that egg, accompanied by a spoonful of broth and noodles, were luxurious.

I highly recommend Tensai ramen for the seasoned ramen eater. A newbie will also enjoy it, but beware: it may ruin other ramen shops for you.

Tensai Ramen, Schiedamsedijk 1, Rotterdam, Netherlands 3011 EB

RO (Porto, Portugal): Reserve a Meal for This Ramen


I had heard nothing but great things about Portugal. It was never on my list of places to visit, but after seeing my friend's gluttonous Instagram feed of her trip, I booked a trip for American Thanksgiving weekend.

And boy did we celebrate.

Knowing nothing about Portuguese cuisine (except for the legendary Francesinha), I booked a food tour with Taste Porto (you can read more about them in my newsletter!). I can't recommend them enough. It was a glorious 3 1/2 hours of learning, eating, and occasional walking. We indulged in savory pastries, sweet pastries, sardines, sandwiches made with the creamiest bread, coffee, wine, cheese, and more pastries.

Taste Porto Food Tours Portugal Sardines Olive Oil Market

Before embarking on this journey, however, we happened to walk past Ramen e Outros (RO). We marked it on our Google map to return for dinner. (There was little fear that we would be too full hours after the tour.)

This Porto ramen joint has no more than ten tables and a handful of bar stools. The design is modern and minimal - you wouldn't necessarily expect it to be a ramen spot at first glance. You will, however, notice that it's popular because it's difficult to get a table. And much like everything else in Porto, the food was exquisite.

Ramen e Outros RO Porto Portugal Tantan ramen noodle soup


The Ramen Marauder had the tonkotsu and I had the tantan, which was the first time I'd ever had the style. It was flavorful and had more of a bite than I expected (but by no means punishing). There were also more noodles than I expected, which is always a plus. Even though it was noted on the menu, I wasn't expecting the large piece of broccolini (bimi) in my noodle soup, but I always love a refreshing green crunch in my ramen.

Overall, there are a lot of things and places to eat in Porto, but as I mentioned in my Florence review, I believe that part of experiencing a city includes eating "non-native" cuisines. You should be sure to save one of your meals for RO.

Ramen e Outros RO Restaurant Porto Portugal tonkotsu ramen noodle soup

Note: if this were a video game, those mushrooms would be a mission item.

Ramen e Outros (RO), Rua Ramalho Ortigão, 61. 4000-407 Porto, Portugal, 967 307 887/222 008 297

Hinoki (Rotteram, Netherlands): One of the Most Popular Ramen Spots in the City


You may think that headline is an exaggeration, but it's not. The first time we went, we arrived at 11:50, even though it opened at noon. We happened to be in the neighborhood and wanted lunch. We weren't in a rush. We also weren't the first people to show up. When Hinoki opened their doors at noon, we discovered that there were maybe 12 tables total, four of which were immediately filled.

Ramen Marauder Eats Miso Ramen Noodle Soup Hinoki Rotterdam Netherlands

Most ramen spots in Europe have the same menu offerings: three variations each of shoyu, tonkotsu, and miso ramens, with a couple vegetarian options and specials. When I visited the states earlier this year, the offerings were either limited to two or three types of ramen, or a smattering of unique takes and twists on ramen.

Regardless, I have always been happy with my options, especially at Hinoki.

Tonkotsu Ramen Black Garlic Noodle Soup Hinoki Rotterdam Netherlands Holland


Debating between the tonkotsu black special and the Tokyo traditional, I decided to go with the black garlic ramen. It was the most popular option according to the chalk board, and for good reason. When "garlic" is in the name of any dish, my concern is that the garlic will overpower the rest of the ingredients - that was not the case here. It was a great addition to the perfectly balanced broth. And for some reason, I really noticed the corn in this one. It brightened the ramen with a refreshing sweetness I don't often find in the dense noodle soup.

The Tan Tan Men came in an unusually large bowl with an unusually large spoon. Please note the side-by-side comparison of images here:

Sterling Schuyler Tonkotsu Black Garlic Ramen Noodle Soup Hinoki Rotterdam Netherlands Holland
Sterling Schuyler Spicy Tantanmen Ramen Noodle Soup Hinoki Rotterdam Netherlands

If you are at all hesitant about spicy foods, I would not recommend ordering this. I wasn't in pain, but it cleared my sinuses (which was exactly what I needed). The spice level walked that fine line between discomfort and pleasure. And this time it was the bok choy that freshened up this dish. Maybe I just have faint childhood memories of soggy bok choy, but I've been really digging it in my ramen lately. Also, for those with peanut allergies, the Tan Tan Men may have had peanut oil in it. According to their allergy list, they note peanuts in the Tan Tan Men and any miso-based ramen.

If you have nowhere to be except sitting and eating ramen, stop by Hinoki and enjoy a delicious bowl!

Hinoki Rotterdam (they do not take reservations - you'll need to just wait outside patiently), Keizerstraat 52, 3011 GH, Rotterdam, +31 10 4133585