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Asahikawa Ramen

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[food]* A distinct style of shoyu ramen, found only in Asahikawa, which is as much a product of the region's history as of culinary considerations.

What?

Asahikawa ramen is a distinct variant of shoyu ramen that is only natively found in the city of Asahikawa, in Hokkaido Prefecture. It is defined by a number of unusual characteristics: the soup base uses dashi made from chicken, seafood and pork bone; it is made such that oil will collect at the surface; finally, the ramen itself is wavy and thin, and with a lower water content which allows it to take up soup easily.

A bowl is typically priced at around ¥1,000 (£7.40 / $11.60) with standard toppings.

 

 

Why?

The origin of Asahikawa ramen is under some dispute, but it appears to have derived from Sapporo (miso) ramen, which arrived in the early 1930's with the opening of a branch of a popular ramen chain based from the capital.

Two ramen shops that opened afterwards, immediately post-war - Hachiya and Aoba - both played pivotal roles in the development of Asahikawa ramen (including the use of the thicker soup base, and more oil) from there, although the precise roles of each remain unclear. It is suggested, though, that the extra oil was added to protect the ramen from cooling in Asahikawa's -30°C winters; pork bone, on the other hand, was used in the making of soup dashi because of the numerous pig farms previously prevalent in the area (ironically, other ingredients were then added to cover up the distinct pork smell).

Because both drew from a common, local supplier of ramen (Kato Ramen, in which the owner of Hachiya also had a major share) the unique characteristics of the ramen produced by this manufacturer came also to define Asahikawa ramen. 

 

 

Where? 

No specific recommendation - most places in Asahikawa are decent - though the aforementioned Hachiya also has a branch in Tokyo. For its main branch:

Hachiya

Sanjodori 15-8
Asahikawa
Hokkaido

Tel: 0166-23-3729
Closes Wednesdays

Map

 

 

And...

I thought I could identify a subtler, richer taste to the soup, and a distinct bounce to the ramen - and I did enjoy it, but I can't say I'd think it would be worth the 1hr+ journey up from Sapporo to try this, in light of everything else Hokkaido (or indeed Japan) has to offer. If you're in the area, though, then by all means. ♥♥

Ever tried Asahikawa ramen? Where do you think is best in Asahikawa? Disagree with my verdict? Send in an e-mailTwitter or comment below!

 

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