Three years ago, I took a trip to Japan. It was my first time leaving the country, and I knew it was going to be the biggest adventure I had ever been on. I had gone there to visit my brother who had been there for about a year teaching English, which meant that I traveled alone, but when I got there, I had a tour guide who knew Tokyo and the Japanese culture very well. That’s how, on one of the first days, I discovered what would become my favorite (and most unexpectedly delicious) culinary delights of the country: Japanese ramen!
As Americans, we really only know the kind of ramen that comes in a hard block with a tiny packet of “flavoring” that contains about a million percent of sodium. Well, Japanese ramen is absolutely nothing like that. There are noodle shops practically on every street corner in Tokyo and they are an extremely popular lunch choice. After I returned home, I really missed my nice hot bowl of ramen, which is why I was very happy when we discovered that there is a place nearby to get authentic Japanese Ramen. Enter Sapporo Ramen:
My brother, D and I went for our semi-monthly trip to Sapporo a few weeks back to satisfy the craving, and as usual, it was delicious.
I ordered the vegetarian ramen:
It’s certainly nice to see something on a menu specifically listed as “vegetarian” – and certainly one luxury you’re not going to see in Japan! This dish is extremely hearty and there is no way you’ll leave hungry if you even have the stomach capacity to finish the whole bowl (take it from me – I’m NEVER full). The veggie comes with a very generous heap of ramen noodles, delicious broth, carrots, greens, bean sprouts, and a few others. As you can see in the above pic, the tables have some very nice looking hot sauce that you’re free to add to your bowl, and I always do. It adds just the right kick.
Despite the size of the main course here, I also couldn’t resist getting some vegetable gyoza. If your’e not familiar with gyoza, it’s a Japanese dumpling that’s either steamed or fried (I prefer steamed – so soft it practically melts in your mouth!) and is usually filled with pork and veggies. The vegetable is just veggies though and is quite delicious.
My brother and D both got ramen that came with pork. D’s also had an egg in it.
We always leave the table completely stuffed, yet still manage to stop by the Japanese bakery in the same little mall for something sweet.
Sapporo Ramen is very popular (from what I’ve seen, it’s the most popular place to eat at this little mall in Cambridge) and doesn’t have very many tables. But don’t be alarmed – they have things down to a science. While the tables are full (which is always), an orderly line forms down the hall and the waiters come through with menus and start taking your order before you even sit down. Your food isn’t delivered to you until you get a table, so once you sit down, you aren’t waiting very long at all. It’s always worth the wait and if you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out!