Asahikawa, Japan's coldest big city, is famous for ramen! Consider these 5 delicious ramen shops when you visit.
Normally shoyu (soy sauce) based, Asahikawa ramen is served piping hot. This is understandable, considering how cold the winters get.
Aoba - Asahikawa's Most Famous
Aoba (旭川らぅめん青葉 本店) is synonymous with Asahikawa ramen, having been around since 1947. Back then they sold ramen for just ¥30! It’s easy to get a sense of their storied history just by looking at the old photos all over the walls.
The soup of their signature shoyu ramen is made up of chicken bones and dried fish. The fish flavors are particularly noticeable, or at least more so compared to other Asahikawa bowls. In summary, Aoba is a big part of Asahikawa's tasty ramen history.
Tenkin - Hearty from Pork Lard
Like Aoba, this popular ramen shop has two outposts in Asahikawa. The lighter brown shoyu and pork bone soup is heartier than what Aoba serves. This is also because they add a layer of pork lard on top, essentially insulating the soup and keeping it hot.
The medium-thick noodles are also drier here (less hydration). Tenkin (らーめんや 天金 四条店) was born just five years after Aoba, in 1952. If you're seeking a heavier bowl with less fish flavors, they've saved you a seat!
Santouka (らーめん山頭火 旭川本店) is the only one on this list to stray from what's considered typical in Asahikawa for ramen. In other words, they don't do a shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. But Santouka (since 1988) is just as much a part of Asahikawa as these other places.
Their shio (salt) seasoned tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen is loved around the world. Today, they boast branches in several countries outside of Japan. But the Santouka story began in Asahikawa.
Hachiya - Burnt Pork Lard?
Just like Aoba, Hachiya (ラーメンの蜂屋 本店) has a history going all the way back to 1947. But that's pretty much the only big similarity between the two. Hachiya's soup is richer from pork bones. There's also dried fish (like horse mackerel) in it.
But the defining soup element is burnt pork lard. It uniquely gives the soup a slightly bitter but wonderful aftertaste. Lastly, Hachiya is famous for using carefully sourced underground water in their soup. The current location has been their home since 1974.
Tsuruya (ラーメン専門 つるや) started in 1972. Even though they're a bit younger, the inside of their ramen shop feels just as retro as the others on this list. In terms of ramen, what they serve is on the lighter side, just like Aoba.
But bear in mind that this is "lighter" compared to other Asahikawa bowls, not ramen in general. The shoyu grounded soup still packs a punch! It's mainly pork bones and dried fish. Furthermore, the noodles are thinner than the rest of the bowls listed.