Isono Kauzo (いそのかづお) in Sapporo serves a unique, award-winning jet black ramen. It's as fun and delicious as it looks.
Sapporo Black Ramen
Isono Kazuo serves shio (salt), white miso, and spicy miso ramen. But everyone orders the "Sapporo Black". It's funny - the menu even says "everything besides the Sapporo Black ramen isn't popular at all". Quite tongue-in-cheek.
What gives the Sapporo Black ramen its color is tamari shoyu, a generally darker and thicker soy sauce. It's bold, salty, and holds up a full-bodied soup. This soup is chicken bones, pork bones, and Raus kombu (kelp from Raus, Hokkaido).
While the soup is lighter than it looks, pork lard and garlic oil on top give it a lip-smacking, oily finish. The stir-fried onions below this top layer give the bowl a pleasant smokiness too.
Rounding out the toppings are menma (bamboo shoots), kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), negi (spring onions), egg, and big slices of pork. The thick, wavy noodles are shipped from Hakodate, Hokkaido.
Lastly, there's a host of condiments available. There's everything from gagome shaved kelp (left), to dried shrimp (second from the right).
Isono Kazuo - Open All Night
This is a 5 AM Ramen shop; they're open all night! The owner is a colorful character, as you'd guess from the menu description. I think you have to be when you're dealing with customers until the wee hours of the morning.
Isono Kazuo only has a few counter seats. But each seat provides an unobstructed view of the kitchen.
They're centrally located in Sapporo City and are therefore popular with locals and tourists. This said, there can be a line.
They're a little tricky to find too, tucked away in the basement of a nondescript building. But perhaps the search makes their Sapporo black ramen all the more tasty.