Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: there really is a chunk of butter floating and melting blithely away in the bowl of soup. But this isn’t just any bowl of soup; nuh-uh, this is a large bowl of Sapporo ramen.
Sapporo, Japan’s fifth-largest city, is located on the island of Hokkaido and has long been known for its ramen which is said to be the best in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Unlike Tokyo’s shoyu ramen which involves a soy sauce-seasoned broth, the miso shiru (miso-based broth) used in Sapporo ramen is richer, somewhat cloudy in appearance, and is slightly thicker. However, it is not as thick nor as pungent in aroma as the tonkotsu ramen (the fabled “collagen broth” based on cartilaginous pork bones) served in Hakata.
Another think that sets Sapporo ramen apart from other noodle soups is the addition of sweet corn kernels and toasted garlic to the bowl before serving alongside generous slabs (not slices!) of char siu (Chinese-style roast pork) and moyashi (mung bean sprouts). And then, there is the chunk of butter melting in the broth; it’s there to give the soup richness and creaminess. Trust me: it’s an idea that actually does work.
The bowl shown above is from Teriyaki Boy (P 195.00 for a large bowl and you can ask for extra soup), but – by far – the best Sapporo ramen to be had in this part of the world is still the one served over at Shinjuku Ramen along Makati Ave. or its slightly smaller branch in Little Tokyo along Pasong Tamo. It’s a tad pricey, but it is an incredible culinary experience that never fails to impress – and satisfy – every single time.