Miso Ramen – A Taste of Sapporo
Miso Ramen is Sapporo’s most popular soul food. Other food specialties of Sapporo include soup curry, Genghis Kkan (grilled lamb) and crab. During the cold winter months, nothing is better than a hot bowl of miso ramen. And during the world-famous winter festival held every year in early February, there are numerous food stalls on Odori Park (the main site of the festival, selling miso ramen.
When most westerners think of ramen, they think of instant ramen. While instant ramen is available in Japan, when the Japanese think of ramen, instant ramen is the last thing that comes to mind. Ramen is probably the most popular of all the soul foods in Japan. Making and eating ramen is treated as an art and almost a religion. Each chef has their own recipe for the broth, noodles and additional ingredients and condiments. There are monthly magazines documenting the ramen scene in Japan, and people will travel all over Japan to try new and different ramens.
There are many different types of ramens, but that is for another blog. To put it simply, miso ramen is ramen with miso paste added to the broth. The creaminess of the miso complements the broth and other ingredients well.
Common Miso Ramen Ingredients
Fatty slices of roasted or braised pork. Chashu is a very common topping, and standard bowls of ramen usually come with one or two slices of it. Kakuni (braised pork belly) is served instead of chashu at some restaurants.
Preserved bamboo shoots with a salty flavor
Chopped or shredded leeks or green onions. Karanegi is a spicy variation of shredded leeks mixed with chili oil. Negi is a ramen standard, while karanegi is often served in miso ramen.
Raw or cooked bean sprouts add sweetness and crunch.
Hard boiled, soft boiled, raw and marinated eggs are all popular toppings on all types of ramen.
Various types of seaweed such as wakame and nori are commonly added to all types of ramen.
Slices of steamed fish cake. One type of kamaboko that is commonly served on ramen is naruto (or narutomaki), a sawtooth edged, white fish cake with a red or pink spiral design on it.
Canned corn is often paired with butter
A thick pat of butter adds creaminess and depth.
Common Ramen Condiments
- White Pepper
- Ra-yu (Chile oil)
- Ground Sesame
- Soy Sauce
How to Eat Ramen
When you receive your ramen, you will also be given a pair of chopsticks and a spoon. The spoon can be used for the broth, although it is also OK to pick up the bowl and drink the broth directly from the bowl in Japan. You can also place the noodles in the spoon and eat or slurp the noodles from the spoon to reduce the chance of getting soup broth on your clothing.
And, of course, as always it is OK to slurp your noodles in Japan. As a matter of fact, it is considered courteous to do so. The added oxygen when slurping helps to cool the noodles, as well as increasing the taste of the noodles.
Where to Go to Eat Miso Ramen in Sapporo
Sapporo’s Ramen Alley is a narrow lane lined with 17 shops serving Sapporo’s famous miso ramen. It is located in the Susukino District of downtown Sapporo, a popular entertainment and restaurant area of downtown Sapporo. Each shop is individually owned and operated, and each one is a small and intimate shop allowing the customers to interface with the ramen chefs, and to watch the chef at work preparing the ramen. You will also be able to rub elbows with the locals. At most of the shops, you will purchase a ticket at a vending machine, and then give the ticket to the chef when you take a seat.
The Sapporo Ramen Republic is a themed restaurant area on the 10th floor of the Esta shopping center, just east of the station’s south entrance. There are eight small ramen restaurants spread out across the nostalgically designed floor space.The shops represent some of the prefecture’s regional varieties, like Asahikawa Ramen and Hakodate Ramen, as well as Sapporo’s Miso Ramen of course. The Esta building also hosts a branch of the Bic Camera electronics store.