[food]* A speciality of Hakodate, this humble shio (salt base) dish is a direct descendant of the predecessor to all ramen.
Hakodate ramen refers to a style of shio (salt base) ramen native to Hakodate, characterised by plain toppings and a clear, light broth made from pork and chicken.
A relatively humble dish, it goes on average for ¥600 (£4.60 / $11.60) for a bowl.
It may not seem like it, but the humble Hakodate ramen may, in fact, be the granddaddy of all ramen. A busy port city even in the Meiji era, Hakodate was host to a large number of Chinese merchants, who visited to buy konbu (seaweed) and other seafood. Locals say (there are competing theories, of course) that it is here, in Hakodate, that ramen was born, deriving from the Canton-style soup noodles to cater to visiting merchants' tastes.
This theory asserts that, although miso and other flavourings were added to the soup base later on in other regions to cater to local tastes, in Hakodate alone did the dish remain unchanged, thus becoming - like dozeu-nabe - a rare, "living" artifact of the bygone era.
On a side-note: in and around Hakodate it is simply referred to as ramen, or shina-soba, meaning Chinese soba (although the word shina for China is, nowadays, considered derogatory.) The terms Hakodate and shio ramen are both recent introductions from the outside, although both are gradually seeing increased use in Hakodate as well.
Any ramen stall or restaurant in and around Hakodate. A locally popular, family-owned ramen bar is Seiryuken:
Served 1100 - 2000
Getting there: 4 min. walk from JR Hakodate Station
Admittedly it's not much to look at - but even so, surprisingly, I liked it. It's warm, and light, and brings out the taste of the noodles wonderfully. The Chinese influence is clear - it somehow feels very distinctly un-Japanese - but that in no way detracts from the simple goodness on offer. Plus, it's an insight into the history of ramen itself. And all for ¥600 or less? I'm not complaining. ♥♥♥
Day 21: Hakodate blog entry coming soon! Stay tuned.
Ever tried Hakodate ramen? How does it compare with shio ramen from elsewhere, or miso or tonkotsu ramen? How about its Chinese variant (predecessor?) Send in an e-mail, comment below or @reply on Twitter / twitter.com/foodjapan