EWhat is Sapporo ramen?

Sapporo ramen and Japanese local ramen

Discover the greast history of Sapporo ramen and know its secrets. Let`s start!

What is Sapporo ramen?

With more than 1000 ramen restaurants Sapporo can be called the town of ramen.

You can see theラーメン(ramen in Japanese alphabet) signs in different places as you can find areas where many little ramen shops are close to each other as in Sapporo Ramen Alley.

There are hundreds of famous ramen restaurants in Sapporo but above all what is popular in Sapporo right now is the ramen with a thick soup, as served at "Junren" or "Ramen Tetsuya".However, in these restaurants the ramen is a little different from the “traditional Sapporo ramen” we envision. Speaking of "Sapporo Ramen", there are also many people who remember the taste of old shops such as the still open "Aji no Sanpei" or the recently closed "Ryuho" (dragon phoenix in Japanese).

But what is exactly the "Sapporo Ramen"?

Everything started from a ramen stall

Sapporo ramen roots lie in the food stalls where ramen was served soon after the war (1946/47). One of the first entrepreneurs was Kanshichi Matsuda who would later open “Ryuho” restaurant. Together with his wife he prepared noodles as well as pork bones soup. The taste of their ramen was soy sauce based as it was the one Japanese people used to like most. The store is said to have become very popular. Nishiyama Senji`s “Darumaken” and Morito Omiya's s “Aji no Sanpei', where miso ramen was first created, used to be food stalls at that time.

The birth of Sapporo Ramen

Omiya Morito is the man who studied ramen making techniques at Kanshichi Matsuda`s restaurant and then opened his own shop called "Aji no Sanpei". At the time almost all the soups were made from pork bones. However the creative mind of Omiya developed the first miso ramen menu (there were only soy sauce and salt versions until then). Also, concerned about calories he decide to put vegetables in ramen soup to absorb better the oil. Takayuki Nishiyama, who has took over “Darumaken”noodle-production section, began collaboration with various ramen shops creating thick yellow egg noodles with good taste and appearance. Here after the ramen culture bloomed changing the generic name of ramen from Sapporo into the specific “Sapporo Ramen” between the 40es and the 50es.

Sapporo ramen expansion throughout Japan

札幌の観光名所となった公楽ラーメン名店街
Koraku ramen streets became a touristic spot in post-war Sapporo.
However in 1969 it was demolished because of the road expansion for the 1971 Winter Olympics.

The big reason why Sapporo Ramen is delicious is that it uses high quality water from the snow on Mount Teine in the manufacture of its noodles. You can say that there are good ramen restaurants where is available fresh good water. Kitakata ramen that uses water from Mount Iide or Sano ramen with the one from Izuruhara Benten pond (one of the 100 best waters in Japan) are good examples.

Towards a new "Sapporo Ramen" era

Although Sapporo was considered the town of ramen with the beginning of Heisei era in 1990 the situation changed. First of all was inaugurated the shop “Heiseiken” which served Asahikawa style ramen with noodles thinner than the traditional Sapporo ramen ones and a soup made by both pork and fish stock. This "Asahikawa ramen", that differs from "Sapporo Ramen”, became popular rising the attention of media as well. After that, Asahikawa ramen shops such as "Gojoken" and "Santoka", which are currently popular and reported in various magazines, were opened one after another attracting many customers.

At the same time, ramen from all over Japan flows into Sapporo, and the number of stores increased dramatically. As Tokyo, Sapporo transformed in a city with a wide choice of ramen.

The future challenges of Sapporo Ramen

Sapporo is now facing a competition with different ramen from all over Japan. In addition to the old Ramen Alley and new Ramen Alley, also in Kotoni area there are many shops pursuing original ramen, as "Yusura" and "Haruna".

Then, inside the new Ramen Alley or the Tanukikoji Shopping Street various ramen such as the thick soup Kyushu-style ramen or the light Tokyo style ramen are prepared as well.

"Every ingredient, whatever is its taste, if cooked in Hokkaido water and climate, it will become “made in Sapporo”. When every ramen prepared here tastes delicious it will be Sapporo Ramen."
Sapporo will be the ramen town forever.

(Honorific names avoided)

元祖ラーメン横丁
Old Ramen Alley
The present old Ramen Alley, which was built in 1971, is famous as a tourist attraction inside and outside Japan
新ラーメン横丁
New Ramen Alley
Because it is located in the basement of a building, Sapporo citizens call it "Mole Alley"
琴似ラーメン街
Kotoni Ramen Town
In the area around Kotoni Subway Station, there is a zone with many ramen specialty restaurants as the picture above shows. Here is portrayed Yusura", one of the most famous"
狸めんこい通り
Tanukikoji Shopping Street
Many ramen shops are located in Tanukikoji street, the most popular shopping district in Sapporo.

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