Aji no Sanpei (味の三平) is where miso ramen got its big start. This happened in Sapporo, Hokkaido (Japan's Northernmost island). This legendary ramen shop is still around too!
Aji no Sanpei - A Drunk Creation?
In the 1950s, most Sapporo City ramen shops were serving shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. This was also the case at Aji no Sanpei. But something changed in 1953.
No one is quite sure what happened. But the rumor is that a drunk customer at Aji no Sanpei requested noodles for their miso soup.
This dish eventually evolved into miso ramen...or so the story goes. Regardless, we have Aji no Sanpei to thank for miso ramen today. It's become one of Japan's and the world's most famous ramen styles.
The Original Miso Ramen
Aji no Sanpei serves shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, shio (salt) ramen, and spicy miso ramen. But the house speciality is understandably miso ramen. In terms of the soup, it isn't as hearty as other miso ramen bowls out there.
The pork bone soup is rich, but not overbearingly so. In the same way, the miso flavor is quite mellow. But the soup isn't exactly light either. There are strong garlic notes and there's a fairly thick layer pork lard on top. It also has a certain sour flavor.
The stir-fried vegetable toppings include onions, bean sprouts and spring onions. Stir-frying vegetables with the miso in a big wok has become a Sapporo miso ramen staple. Lastly, there are little chunks of minced pork and a pretty bouquet of kaiware sprouts.
The thick, wavy noodles are supplied by Nishiyama Seimen. There's plenty of noodles in the bowl.
An Odd Location
Aji no Sanpei is unusually located on the 4th floor of a department store. You'll find them in a little corner amongst shelves of stationery goods.
On another random note, the name "Aji no Sanpei" has to do with the first generation owner's nickname.
In conclusion, if you want to taste the first ever bowl of miso ramen, Aji no Sanpei should be on your ramen hit list.
Shop Hours: 11 am ~ 6:30 pm (only closed on Thu)
For more about miso ramen history, click here.