Famous for its abundant nature, Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, is a must-visit for outdoorsy travelers. With mountains, national parks, lakes, and natural onsen, Hokkaido is as much of a winter destination as it is a summer destination.
As the largest city on the island and the fifth largest city in Japan, Sapporo is a mandatory stop before exploring the wilderness of Hokkaido. With many tourist spots, Sapporo is a welcoming city for sightseeing.
The best way to explore the town? Walk through the streets and take in the atmosphere. Take a stroll through Odori Park up to the Sapporo TV Tower, ride the Ferris wheel in Susukino, but first and foremost enjoy the local Sapporo specialty dishes, like Sapporo miso ramen.
What is Sapporo Ramen?
Invented in central Sapporo, miso ramen is said to have emerged in the 1950s from the genius mind of Omiya Morito, owner of “Aji no Sanpei.” The story goes that a customer asked Morito to add noodles to their miso soup, and this is now thought to be the precursor of the miso ramen we know today. Concerned by the richness of the food, Morito also added fresh vegetables to cook with the flavored hot pot.
During an era when only soy sauce or salt were typical seasonings for ramen, miso ramen was an unexpected flavor. Today, traditional Sapporo miso ramen includes medium-thickness noodles topped with bean sprouts, chopped pork, and garlic. Now with a special ramen alley (Ganso Ramen Yokocho or "Ganso Ramen Alley"), Sapporo is the Ramen Town.
From the original miso ramen, numerous offshoots of flavors appeared: seafood, chicken, clam, crab, shrimp, and sweetcorn and butter, to cite only a few. Whether they lean traditional or inventive, Sapporo ramen chefs are proud to use local ingredients sourced in the land of Hokkaido, a guarantee of quality to make the best ramen possible.
Best Sapporo Ramen Restaurants
Ready to dive into some bowls of ramen? Here are a few of the top Sapporo ramen restaurants.
- Aji no Sanpei
- Ebisoba Ichigen
- Teshikaga Ramen
- Aji no Karyu
- Ramen-Gyoza Hanauta
1. Aji no Sanpei
They say the original always tastes the best, so why not try miso ramen right where it started over sixty years ago? Aji no Sanpei, the home of miso ramen, is still slinging ramen in central Sapporo, a convenience for both locals and tourists who wants to eat the hearty bowl.
Family-oriented, the restaurant also provides a kids’ noodle bowl called okosama ramen for 500 yen. The restaurant offers a variety of ramen for 850 yen, including spicy, salt, and soy sauce-based ramen. Yet, the miso ramen bowl is the most popular.
2. Ebisoba Ichigen
If you are a gourmand who's ready to wait in line, Ebisoba Ichigen's main branch is for you.
The restaurant offers a unique type of shrimp ramen. For 780 yen, customers can create their own ramen by choosing between three soup bases: the original shrimp broth, the medium-rich broth with a mix of pork and shrimp, and the very concentrated pork and shrimp broth. Then, choose to add soy sauce, salt, or miso, as well as the thickness of the noodles, for a unique bowl made just for you. Besides your bowl of shrimp broth, Ebisoba Ichigen proposes another must-try: the shrimp onigiri, a delight!
The restaurant near Susukino is always packed with locals and tourists eager to try the sea-flavored pinkish broth. But do not worry if you missed it during your stay in the city; the New Chitose Airport has its own Ebisoba shop. No excuses for not having a bowl of Sapporo miso ramen before boarding!
3. Teshikaga Ramen
Located in the famous Ganso Ramen Yokocho, Teshikaga Ramen is a tiny shop that seats nine people, where customers wait in line to have the privilege to sit at the counter. Choose between the traditional miso, seafood, or the char-grilled version, starting from around 760 yen.
The most popular is the Hokkaido Zenbu Nose Miso Ramen (Hokkaido Miso Ramen with Everything), a combination of all Hokkaido delicacies including snow crab, butter, corn, and pork, an exquisite dish that sells out pretty quickly every night.
4. Aji no Karyu
Founded in 1965, this Sapporo ramen restaurant is well-established in the ramen alley, Ganso Ramen Yokocho. Aji no Karyu is renowned for having served ramen to Anthony Bourdain, the famous American chef and travel documentarian who needs no introduction.
Don’t let yourself be fooled by Aji no Karyu's grumpy chef, the ramen is worth it. The tiny shop offers about 20 seats, so sometimes lining up is necessary. From 800 yen, select among miso ramen, butter corn ramen, scallop ramen, and other seafood.
5. Ramen-Gyoza Hanauta
With a classic Sapporo miso ramen base that's unusually topped with Chinese medicinal herbs, Ramen-Gyoza Hanauta offers a unique style for Sapporo ramen lovers. Try their most popular dish, the Shankara Miso, for only 750 yen. Adjust your spice level from medium spicy to extremely spicy and start feeling warm. The addition of medicinal herbs adds a unique taste to the original miso ramen. The small shop is also recognized for its gyoza.
Hokkaido is not only a pleasure for the eyes, but it will also delight your taste buds. Known as the “Kingdom of Food” and the birthplace of many dishes, Sapporo is a foodie heaven. Out of the many local Sapporo dishes, make sure you stop by some of these ramen restaurants for the best Sapporo miso ramen!