Restaurant #13: Ajisai, Sapporo
There is a place called “Ramen Kyowakoku” (ラーメン共和国), the 10th floor of the ESTA building, in front of Sapporo JR station. As a ramen lover, I frequently come here and try different ramen. You’ll find eight ramen shops from around Hokkaido and a gift shop in this ramen park. Shops are in and out every 6 months or a year, so visitors can always enjoy different shops. Don’t forget to stop by at the gift shop to find some ramen goodies. It would be fun to take a look at this park, because the décor is quite fascinating that they reproduced the old style Japanese small town.
It has been five years since this park was opened. In October, some new shops were opened; one of shops is called "Ajisai" (あじさい), from the city of Hakodate. Hakodate ramen is famous for shio taste broth. I tried another Hakodate ramen a few months ago, in Ramen Kyowakoku, and I liked it. So I was excited to try Ajisai’s Shio Ramen.
Ajisai’s menu was various; even though Shio is the most popular item of them, I found them trying to invent new items, such as curry ramen or ikasumi (イカ墨: squid ink) soup! I was really interested in ikasumi soup, but since it was my first time here, and I didn’t want to be adventurous, so I chose a simpler item. We ordered Ajisai Shio Ramen (750 yen), Seabura Ramen with Shoyu (850 yen), and Menma Ramen with Shio (850 yen).
Ajisai Shio Ramen (味彩塩拉麺)
I believe this is their signature menu. Simple is the best! I heard that their soup is crystal clear, and now I know it was true. The broth is made of pork and chicken based, added vegetable and seaweeds (昆布). All the extract essence from those is for a dignified taste. If you prefer heavy taste, then you might feel that something is missing. It might be the reason why there are many ingredients over the straightened noodle. Two thick slices of Chashu (roasted pork) were melted in my mouth and no need to chew. Negi (green onion) almost covered the clear soup. Because the soup’s taste is light, strong taste of negi gives more appetite.
Seabura Ramen, Shoyu (背脂拉麺: 醤油)
My choice. Seabura (背脂) is pork back fat, and it is popularly used in ramen. I usually don’t eat seabura that much, because it is too oily. This time, however, I know the soup taste lighter than my preference, so I tried this with Shoyu (soy sauce) taste. I actually chose the right one. Adding extra seabura pork lard, shoyu based soup had much richer taste and seaweed broth matched with shoyu. Amazing! Noodle was beautifully strengthen, and easily made me full. Tons of sliced negi and chashu (チャーシュー) covered over the tasty soup, and my favorite mizuna (水菜) gives a fresh taste. Lastly, a crispy fried wonton was laid under menma (メンマ: bamboo shoots).
Menma Ramen, Shio (メンマ拉麺: 塩)
Basically, it was Shio Ramen, with extra menma (bamboo shoots). However, the soup became much richer flavored because of extract essence from menma. If you like menma, go for it. My brother ordered this, and he loved it.
Overall, I enjoyed their taste. It really depends on your preference when you enjoy ramen. Soup, noodle and ingredients… The best way to find your own favorite is keep eating all kinds of ramen and know what you like the most.
Sooner, I need to go back to Ramen Kyowakoku, because “Nantsuttei” (なんつッ亭) from Kanagawa just opened! I just need a little more time to save some money…
Total: 2450 yen (for 3 people)
at Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku
10F, Sapporo ESTA building
Kita 5-jo Nishi 2-chome, Chuo-ku
http://www.sapporo-esta.jp/ramen/ (Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku)
http://www.ajisai.tv/index.php (Ajisai Official Web)