Waiter, there’s a juxtaposition in my soup.

I lead a busy life of failing tests and drinking worm poo, so it’s important to value every minute of the day. For example, I love a bowl of ramen and an ice cream cone as much as anyone, but who has the time these days?

So I was pleased to learn that a ramen restaurant in the heart of Osaka offers spicy miso ramen with an cream cone on top, perfect for a young urban professional like myself. The restaurant is named Franken and is located near Honamachi Station in the northern part of the long shopping arcade that starts at the famous Ebisu Bridge.

Franken has a very simple but specialized menu of ramen, Chinese soba noodles, and fried rice, but have let their creativity run wild for this one dish, the Sweet and Spicy Miso Ramen which playfully makes no mention of the big ice cream cone on top in its name.

Everything is sold through a ticket machine here and just as I put 850 yen (US$7.38) in and pushed the button for the Sweet and Spicy Miso Ramen a voice behind me said, “Yeah, I thought so.” When I looked back an older man smiled and told me, “That’s why I’m here, too.”

I wished him luck and headed on inside. It was only a few minutes after opening but the place was filling up quickly. From what I could see, almost everyone was ordering the same thing. The staff seemed really prepared to whip these things up fast too and mine arrived only a few minutes after sitting down.

▼ You might notice in this picture that the side of the cone was flattened so it doesn’t roll around in the bowl and make a huge mess

▼ Seasoning the ice cream was nice touch

Having eaten pudding ramen before, I more or less knew what to expect with this combination, but the cone kind of threw me for a loop as to how to approach it. Should the ice cream be dunked in so that it all merges with the broth, or should I take measured bites of it while drinking the broth?

I expected the ice cream to melt away in a matter of seconds but it stayed firm and cold for quite some time. After picking out a little bit of ice cream just for a taste I decided to just let nature take its course while eating everything together.

I once read that one way to enhance spicy food is to eat it with something very sweet. That theory seemed correct in this case because the broth had a very firm spicy kick to it. It wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy but it definitely made its presence known.

Although it was chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream, the chocolate flavor became most dominant and gave an interesting smoky feeling to the spicy miso broth. I was hoping that the cone would act like a cracker and provide a nice texture among the other toppings of bean sprouts, pork, and bamboo shoots, but the combination of ice cream and broth made it soggy rather quickly.

As the ice cream slowly faded away, the chocolate flavor continued to stand out with the spicy broth. Both the amount and flavor were interesting choices. The pudding ramen I had before used a lot of pudding and converted the broth into a very creamy one, but the Sweet and Spicy Miso Ramen kept its more oily consistency throughout.

A salty tonkotsu base seems like a more natural match for something sweet like ice cream, but this dish uses the earthy umami flavor of miso which felt a little conflicting with the chocolate at times. That could have been a disaster, but the amount of ice cream used seemed to keep everything in check and maintained a delicate balance that worked. In hindsight, this made me wonder if a tonkotsu ramen would have turned out too sweet.

It might not show up too well in photos but the ice cream didn’t mix with the broth and it could be easily seen just floating and swirling around. This was a particularly neat feature because it was possible to just scoop up as much sweetness and spiciness in each spoonful as mood dictated.

All in all it was a well crafted bowl of ramen that was full of spicy, sweet, and savory fun. The taste of the chocolate ice cream seemed to linger most afterward too, so it really was like having a dessert with lunch but at the same time.

If you happen to be in Osaka, check out Franken. Although it was busy when I went, the staff are pretty on-point and customer turnover is pretty fast so seating isn’t an issue.

There also appears to be no limit to how many Sweet and Spicy Miso Ramens they can serve up in a day, so no need to worry about it selling out.

Restaurant information
Franken / フラン軒
Address: Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku, Kitakyuhojimachi 3-5-3
大阪府 大阪市中央区 北久宝寺町 3-5-3
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Tabelog page

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