Taiwan Ramen – Famous Nagoya Meibutsu

ByBert Wishart
Jul 28, 2022

Taiwan Ramen – Famous Nagoya Meibutsu

Nagoya’s cuisine is pretty different from traditional Japanese fare. While most of the best-known Japanese dishes are famed for their subtlety, delicate, and refined tastes, with its spicy red miso and peppery tebasaki, Nagoya cuisine is known for having a kick to it;  none more so than Taiwan ramen!

What is Taiwan Ramen?

Taiwan ramen is perhaps the spiciest of Japan’s ramen soup dishes. Ground pork, Chinese chives, green onions, and bean sprouts are seasoned with lots of spicy red peppers and other spices before being fried. Added to this is a heroic quantity of garlic, and then the mix is placed in a soy-sauce chicken broth with ramen noodles.

With all the garlic and chili, it is quite a strong-smelling dish – and you certainly wouldn’t want to be kissing anyone after eating it – though the first taste generally is not that piquant. But then, as the spices meld with the hot soup and the chili kick in, you’ll be sweating buckets before you can say, ‘can someone get me a glass of milk, please!’ In the best possible way, of course

Is it not Taiwanese?

Now, I know what you are thinking: “Taiwan ramen? That doesn’t sound so Nagoyan. The clue’s in the name, right?” Wrong. While you would be forgiven for thinking that way, as many locals do, Taiwan ramen originated here in Chikusa Ward and is as Nagoyan as Ichiro and the TV Tower.

The dish originates in the early 1970s in a Taiwanese restaurant, Misen (more about which, later). It is said that the restaurant’s chef, Kuo Ming You, created the dish – essentially Taiwan danzai noodles with the spice dialed up to the max, or tantsumen, a variation of Chinese tantanmen – as a way to feed his staff during shifts.

The restaurant’s regulars were intrigued by the spicy ramen and demanded it on the menu. At the time, the dish did not even have a name, but as the restaurant owner was from Taiwan, he called it ‘Taiwan Ramen,’ and thus, a legend was born.

During the mid-1980s, Japan saw a spicy boom after it was rumored that weight loss could be encouraged by eating food spiced with red chili peppers. As a result, Taiwan ramen became one of the most popular of these ‘slimming’ dishes, and its fame grew across the Nagoya and the Chubu area. Today, some restaurants in Taiwan serve this dish, calling it Nagoya Ramen!

Where to get good Taiwan Ramen

Nowadays, almost every Chinese restaurant in Nagoya and most ramen shops serve Taiwan ramen. However, the three restaurants below should be your first ports of call if you want the best. However, if you disagree and you know somewhere better, please let us know in the comments below.


The originator of Taiwan ramen, Misen, is also the best. Here it comes in three spice levels, with ‘American’ being the weakest, ‘Italian’ the spiciest, and original Taiwan in the middle (the ranking, interestingly enough, comes from the strength of coffee served in each country).

While JIS loves spicy food, we recommend avoiding the Italian as much of the flavor is lost in the search for fire.

Where: There are many locations around the city (map)


Menya Hanabi

While Misen is the creator of Taiwan ramen, Menya Hanabi took this well-loved dish and revolutionized it, becoming the first shop to serve Taiwan Mazesoba.

Taiwan Mazesoba tastes almost exactly like Taiwan Ramen but is soup-less. With thick-cut noodles served with spicy meat, raw egg yolk, and negi onion, it packs a punch right at the bottom, where all the extra spice hides. Another great place famous for its Taiwan Mazesoba is Anzutei in Meieki.

Gyoza no O-Sho

This is perhaps somewhat blasphemous, but one of the best Taiwan ramen shops is not only from Osaka, but it isn’t even a ramen shop. O-Sho is traditionally a gyoza restaurant, and damn fine gyoza they do too. However, they also do a fantastic Taiwan ramen, which you can have as a lunch set with their gyoza. However, not all O-Shos serve Taiwan ramen, so ask before you sit down.

Where: All over the city


Ganso Taiwan Curry

A sister store to the Hanabi mentioned above, Ganso Taiwan Curry adds a curry twist to the Nagoya classic dish. For just 820 JPY, you get a dish with Kyoto-grown kujo onions, carrots, potatoes, onions, and more than ten spices, topped with mince, chopped garlic, and raw egg yolk. How’s that for value?

Being out in Inuyama, Ganso Taiwan Curry is a bit of a trek but well worth the train ride!

Where: Komeno-1106-1 Kamino, Inuyama (map)

Website: taiwan-curry.com

Make your own Taiwan Ramen

Want to get that authentic Taiwan Ramen taste but don’t want to go out for it? Watch this video to learn how to make Taiwan Ramen in your home.

Image by https://www.taiwan-curry.com/
Image by rok1966 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com (modified)
Image by ayustety (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com (modified)
Image by 炭素 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com (modified)

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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