Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Best Of Ramen From Hokkaido

One of the highlight of my trip to Hokkaido was trying the famous ramen they have. Ramen is a noodle dish that was originally imported to Japan from China. However, over the last few decades, ramen has become a typical Japanese dish and gained great popularity inside and outside of Japan.

Ramen noodles are about as thin as spaghetti and are served in a soup with various toppings. My favourite ingredient in a bowl of ramen will be chashu (sliced pork), the Japanese version of char siew. Compared to our very own char siew, the one they have here is thinner and wider. Having said that, I still prefer our dark red char siew which you can see often on wantan mee (Chinese noodles with Chinese dumpling and BBQ pork).

Ramen restaurants can be found all over Japan, just like mamak stalls back home. That aside, a large variety of instant ramen and cup noodles is available in supermarkets. In other words, it is the Japanese version of our very own and all-time favourite Maggi and Cintan instant noodles.

There are many different ramen dishes differing in the soup base and the toppings. But the main three ramen in Hokkaido are Shouyu Ramen, Miso Ramen and Shio Ramen. Each of the ramen are famous at a particular place.

The first one we tried was Shouyu Ramen in Asahikawa.


Asahikawa's Soy Sauce Ramen

Shoyu Ramen is made of soy sauce as the base of the soup with a combination of seafood, pork and chicken carcass meat as its topping, prepared in a simply style. As Asahikawa is located at the northern part of Japan and being exposed to cold climates almost throughout the year, lard is use to maintain the heat of the soup. However, using lard still make it taste bland.

It wasn't a hard thing to get into the shop that serve the best Shoyu Ramen in Asahikawa. We just enquired at the Tourist Information counter at the train station and that Chinese young lady, recommended us to this restaurant called 旭川ラーメン - 梅光軒 (Asahikawa Ramen - Baikouken). The fact is that it has a branch in Singapore at North Canal Road, which you might want to have a try on this Shoyu Ramen.

During our time in Sapporo, we did not manage to try the Miso Ramen there. However, we still wanted to make sure we had a taste on it before we leave. We had it in Noboribetsu instead, after our visit to the bear park.


Sapporo's Soy Bean Ramen

Thick soybean paste, with garlic and a large quantity of lard are used to create the distinctive punch in Miso Ramen. The soup and stir-fried vegetables are boiled together, with soybean paste being added into them.

The third and final ramen I tried in Hokkaido was Shio Ramen from Hakodate. The main characteristic of this ramen is its salty soup. It is a bland pork bone-based transparent soup prepared under low heat with salt as the seasoning. Some prefer slices of cheese as the topping of the ramen as well.


Hakodate's Salt Ramen

We were taken to have the Shio Ramen at a restaurant called 味彩ラーメン (Ajisai Ramen) by Chang Yuan during our one day in Hakodate. Although the ingredients of Shio Ramen is similar to the other two, i.e having chashu and menma (seasoned bamboo shoots), the aroma of the soup makes Shio Ramen stands out from the rest. As for me, after trying all those three ramens, my personal favourite will definitely be the Shio Ramen in Hakodate.

You have to try it one day to get what I mean here.


mg said...

chicken carcass? did i read that correctly? lolz. not carcass leh.. that's like dead chicken. i think.. :)

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
i mean chicken meat =P