The Best Types Of Ramen In Hokkaido And Where To Find Them | CoolJapan

Best Hokkaido Ramen

Just one of the many types of ramen you can find in Hokkaido © JNTO (from JNTO Online Media Library)

In Japan, ramen is more than just a bowl of soupy noodle goodness. It's an important part of the local culture. Did you know that different regions around the country have their own local variations on ramen? We head up to the northernmost region of the country on the island of Hokkaido to search for the best types of ramen you can find in this prefecture.

Sapporo Ramen

The capital of Hokkaido is famous for its miso-based ramen with thick hearty soups. A typical bowl of Sapporo ramen comes with dense noodles soaked in a pork broth mixed with soybean paste and topped with fatty chashu pork and crunchy bean sprouts, as well as Hokkaido specialities like sweet corn kernels and a slab of creamy butter to make that soup even more savoury.

Best Hokkaido RamenRamen Yokocho

Want to try Sapporo ramen? The narrow alleyways of the adjacent Ganso Ramen Yokocho and Shin Ramen Yokocho near Susukino station are lined with many different ramen shops, each with their own unique spin on the ramen dish.

Asahikawa Ramen

Asahikawa is for shoyu ramen lovers who enjoy soy sauce-based broth with a mixture of pork and seafood. This type tends to be quite oily as the oil layer prevents the soup from cooling too quickly in the cold weather. The noodles used in Asahikawa ramen tend to be thin, firm and wavy. Popular toppings include bamboo shoots, green onion and chashu.

Asahikawa has its own collection of eight ramen stalls at the Asahikawa Ramen Village, but it is a little further out of the city centre near the Minami-Nagayama train station. You can find plenty of ramen shops closer to the downtown Asahikawa area as well.

Hakodate Ramen

Typical Hakodate style ramen is salt- or shio-based and the chicken- or pork-based broth is known for being much lighter than the rich Sapporo and Asahikawa style broths, but still as tasty. Thin soft noodles are topped with pork slices, spring onions, bamboo shoots and local additions like fresh seafood and kelp.

Ajisai is a well-known Hakodate ramen chain with several outlets around Japan and a good place to get a simple bowl or Hakodate ramen.

Kushiro Ramen

Kushiro is a port town located on the eastern coast of Hokkaido and the unique thing about Kushiro ramen that you will notice immediately is that it uses very thin wavy noodles. This shoyu-based ramen is usually served with a soup consisting of a pork and bonito (Katsuodashi) broth mixture served with chashu, spring onions and bamboo shoots.

One of the more well-known shops to have Kushiro Ramen is at Kushiro Ramen Kawamura, which has 30 years of history. Look out for their special soup seasoned with chicken bones and onions!

Curry Ramen

In the southwestern towns of Tomakomai and Muroran you can find a rather unusual ramen featuring thick Hokkaido wheat noodles covered, not in broth, but in spicy yellow stew-like curry. This is usually complemented with charsiu, vegetables and wakame seaweed.

The Muroran Curry Ramen Coop has a website with a listing of member restaurants, the most popular of which is Aji no Daio, credited as the creators of the curry ramen variant.

Other regional variations

Besides the popular forms of Hokkaido ramen mentioned above, here are a few other regional variations that you should check out:

Gatatan Ramen (Ashibetsu): Shio ramen with more ingredients than the typical ramen.

Ebi Shio Ramen (Haboro): Shio ramen made with freshwater shrimp from Haboro and shrimp oil.

Okhotsk Hoshi Kaibashira Shio Ramen (Kitami): Shio ramen seasoned with Okhotsk sea salt and scallops.