Hakodate ramen shop Ajisai is undoubtedly the city's most famous ramen shop. Their clear shio ramen is as complex as it is flavorsome.
Ajisai - Famed Hakodate Ramen
In 1930, Hakodatemen Chubou Ajisai (函館麺厨房あじさい) started in Hakodate City, Hokkaido as a Chinese restaurant. Today they have several branches. Most of them are on their Hakodate home turf.
Their Hakodate flagship branch is conveniently located near Goryokaku Tower. They've been in this building for over 30 years. Their menu is a big as their interior, with miso ramen and shoyu (soy sauce) ramen among the options.
But the top seller is shio (salt seasoned) ramen, hands-down. In Hakodate, it has to be shio.
Local Chinese restaurants like Ajisai pioneered Hakodate shio ramen. It's no wonder that this ramen style tastes like a noodle dish you might see in China.
Ajisai's Shio Ramen
Let's start with the clear soup. There's a lot that goes into it! The seasoning is salt, dried squid, sardines, scallops and other ingredients. The soup below is pork bones, chicken bones and kelp from the Dounan area in Hakodate.
The soup is also topped off with chicken oil (chiyu) and pork back fat (seabura). In other words, the light soup also packs a punch. The seafood flavors are most discernible. But they don't oppress the other flavors.
For toppings, there's bamboo shoots (menma), kaiware sprouts, fish cake (naruto), egg, pork belly, and a white and green blanket of spring onions (negi) covering the soup. They are a big source of sweetness.
At five o'clock is wheat gluten (fu). This fluffy, sponge-like topping soaks up the soup and is something you can only find in Hakodate shio ramen!
Lastly, relatively thin and wavy noodles are most common in Hakodate. It's no different at Ajisai. Noodle manufacturer Kanejin Shokuhin makes their noodles.
In conclusion, Ajisai is at the top of the Hakodate ramen chain for good reason. They and their shio ramen have earned it.