A person who trained under Akihiro Nakagawa, the creator of many popular ramen restaurants such as Harenochi Hare in Hokusetsu, opened a new restaurant “Men ni Hikari wo” in the youth district of Amerika-mura (commonly known as Amemura) in November 2019. The restaurant serves ramen featuring duck and seafood, and although it has only been in business for less than five years, it already feels like it has firmly established itself as a popular ramen restaurant in the Shinsaibashi neighborhood. The restaurant has been highly rated in the reviews on the food log, and is now so popular that there is always a line of people waiting in line even on weekdays.
What kind of ramen is served at Men ni Hikari wo? I had been curious about it for some time, so I visited the restaurant on a Saturday, aiming to get there 30 minutes before opening time. Walking south on Yokoborisuji Street from Sankaku Park, the symbol of America-mura, it took about two minutes.
The gap between the two is interesting… This is what the popular ramen store in America-mura, Men ni Hikari wo looks like.
I arrived at “Men ni Hikari wo” around 10:30 in the morning, and I saw two big guys in T-shirts puffing on cigarettes at the storefront. These two men were actually staff members of the store, but they were dressed so stiffly that I thought they might be suppliers. I thought they might be stockists. I felt bad about interrupting the vendor’s break, so I decided to leave the place for a while and come back just before opening time.
When I arrived at the restaurant 5 minutes before opening time, there were 3 customers ahead of me…a bit surprising. Well, I was happy to see that this was a definite first round. But after the opening time, customers started arriving one after another, and by the time I left the restaurant, there was a huge line of customers in front of the restaurant. From the looks of it, it seems that there will be a good amount of waiting time during the peak lunch time.
Well, I purchased a meal ticket from the ticket machine on the left side of the entrance and was seated at one of the only six counter seats in the restaurant. I was a little surprised to see two gaten-kei guys standing over the counter smoking cigarettes. But although they look very cool, these two men are very polite. Don’t worry, even a single female customer can use the restaurant without any problem.
Another thing to mention is that while the restaurant is decorated in a clean Japanese style, the background music playing was jazz. There is a mismatch in many ways, like the waitresses’ outfits. Frankly speaking, I felt a sense of discomfort. Is this what they are aiming for? Well, such gaps are one of the interesting things about this restaurant…
Special Hip Hop: A taste of the signature dish of Men ni Hikari wo: Light-bodied Duck Noodle…
Let me introduce you to the special Hip Hop I ordered at Men ni Hikari wo (light-bodied duck noodle, priced at 1,190 yen including tax). Check here for a picture…
Frankly speaking, I think the presentation is one of the most beautiful ramen I have ever eaten…. With all due respect, it is hard to believe that the old guys puffing on their cigarettes before the restaurant opened…no, no, no, I shouldn’t say that.
It would be a shame to ruin such a beautiful visual, I thought, and took a sip from the soup first… As the name “light duck soba” suggests, the soup is light and elegant, but I was particularly impressed by the sweet soy sauce flavor that reminded me of the origin of ramen noodles, which is a type of “Jinrui Mina Menrui”. The moment the soup hit the tongue, a relatively strong sweetness spread over the entire tongue, followed softly by a sense of soup stock made from Kyoto duck and Japanese chicken stock that passed from the mouth to the nose. The sweetness and the broth feeling disappeared without leaving any aftertaste, and only the heat of the soup remained in the mouth. A young man sitting next to me was eating the same hip-hop soup, and he kept saying, “Wow, it’s so good! I can understand why he would want to say that.
On the other hand, the noodles are thick and flat like Jiro-style ramen noodles. To be honest, this is an unexpected combination. The lightness of the soup makes the physical impact of the noodles seem stronger. However, the noodles are not as tough as Jiro’s noodles. The surface is smooth and goes into the mouth easily, and after a firm texture and wheatiness, it goes down the throat easily, making it easy to eat contrary to its appearance. I did not add more noodles this time, but the thick noodles had a psychological effect, and I felt full after eating without complaints.
The char siu pork that came with the special upgrade was two pieces each of duck and pork. Both slices are thinly sliced, but the duck chashu in particular has a strong duck flavor, which gives it a strong taste in the mouth. You can eat this thinly sliced pork chashu as it is, but it is also good to eat it wrapped around noodles. However, it is my personal preference, but I wonder if they could make it duck chashu-only like Kyoto’s Kamo LABO…
The ajitama (flavored egg) sitting in the upper left corner of the bowl was elastic when you poked it with chopsticks, and you could tell that the yolk inside was melting just by the feel of it. When I actually cracked it open, it looked like this, and even the yolk inside was soaked with the flavor of soy sauce sauce and delicious. However, I think it is a waste to use the yolk to change the taste of this light soup. If your taste is similar to mine, you might want to just take one bite and go for it.
Finally, a word about the aromatics of the soup. At first, there was a savory aroma wafting from the scorched scallions, which were like sou-dai-shou, but there were yuzu peels lurking at the bottom of the bowl, and the aroma of the soup changed from savory to citrusy and refreshing. This was also a bit of an interesting gimmick. So I was able to finish this special hip-hop while enjoying every last drop of soup. Indeed, I can see why this ramen is so popular. If you are looking for a good soy sauce ramen in the Shinsaibashi area, this restaurant should be on your list.
Men ni Hikari wo’s Ramen Menu (prices include tax)
- HIP HOP (duck soba) 890 yen
- R&B (duck and seafood soba) 950 yen
- PUNK (shellfish) 890 yen
- JAZZ (Miso, available only on weekends) 1,050 yen
Various types of ramen can be ordered with a large serving of noodles for +100 yen, topped with an aji-tama (flavored egg) for +100 yen, or special ramen for +300 yen.
The restaurant operates a “villa” in nearby Namba and a “detached” ramen restaurant in the fierce ramen battle zone of Fukushima… To get to Men ni Hikari wo, a 4-minute walk from the nearest station, Yotsubashi Station on the Osaka Metro Yotsubashi Line.
In addition to the first branch in Amerikamura, Men ni Hikari also operates “Men ni Hikari Bettei” in nearby Namba and “Men ni Hikari Away” in Fukushima, one of the most fierce battlegrounds for ramen in Osaka. Each of these three restaurants offers a different menu, so it would be interesting to try them all and see how they compare. I recommend them especially for those who prefer elegant ramen. If you have a chance, please give “Noodles with Light” a try in your neighborhood.
Now, here are the details of the restaurant. Check here for store data…
Men ni Hikari wo out of 5
Address: 2-17-8 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0086
Phone number: 06-6214-5551
Business hours: 11:30-15:00, 18:00-20:30
Closed: Wednesdays and Thursdays (temporary closures are available, check the store’s Instagram)
Credit card payment：Not accepted (meal ticket system)
It is a 5-minute walk from Osaka-Namba Station on the Kintetsu Line and a 7-minute walk from Osaka Metro Shinsaibashi Station.
P.S. If you are looking for good ramen in Osaka, please stop by this article…