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05/10/2016

Hokkaido Ramen is Famous for a Reason

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Hokkaido is a beautiful and amazing place, but springtime is chilly and wet, and sometimes you just need a pick-me-up. And what’s one of the best ways to do that? A gigantic bowl of steaming, delicious ramen. Sapporo is famous for its ramen for a reason, so I went to check it out. In fact, there is a whole street dedicated to the noodles called “Ramen Yokocho.” Not only is this tiny street jam-packed with a variety of ramen stores, this place has been dubbed as the birthplace of miso ramen. No, these shops aren’t modest in their boasting – several of them flaunting signatures of famous visiting celebrities and chefs – but they have a reason to boast. Anthony Bourdaine along with several other prominent chefs have even written books about the place. It may sound like a bit of a tourist trap at first, but you have to know what you’re looking for if you want to find it (easy to do with a map app). Therefore, even though it might be a bit busy, you can still have a great time without wading through huge throngs of tourists.

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Once you head off the Sapporo main streets, Ramen Yokocho is clearly marked with a big yellow sign, so even though it’s narrow, it’s not too hard to find. Inside the alley is a collection of with tons of shops, most displaying different local types of seafood (though one did specialize in just beef and pork, if seafood is not your style). I could only fit one bowl of ramen in my stomach for the night, so I selected a place that specialized in miso ramen with clams. The restaurant’s name is Shimijimi (しみじみ)and it sits about ten people max. And the small size was perfect. Right at the counter you can chat and watch the chef duo whisk, boil, and mix your meal into perfection. Then your beautiful bowl is delivered right in front of you, piping hot and mouthwateringly delicious.

Each bowl comes with spring onions and mushrooms, and almost all of their ramen feature seafood here – and the fresh Hokkaido catch is delicious. You can also add egg and pork if you feel you can fit it all in your stomach. Ordering is simply done from a ticketing machine, though be warned, it is all in Japanese (though if you can’t read, the pictures of all the different bowls are displayed with labels outside). The two chefs were very friendly and totally fine with pictures and questions!

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After enjoying your ramen you can go to the end of the street where a brief history of Ramen Yokocho is posted. Also the location is right in central Sapporo so you can have a nice long walk to work off a warm, bellyful of noodles. The city really comes alive at night, so there is no shortage of things to do. And Sapporo Tower is just a few minutes away by walking, so you can stroll in the park around it as well. If you find yourself in Sapporo, Ramen Yokocho is a fun, cheap, and interesting place to stop by for a wonderful meal.

 

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