Hachiya – Asahikawa City: The story behind this ramen-ya is a very interesting one. Originally an ice cream shop, Kato-san was so impressed when trying ramen for the first time, he made a heroic attempt at creating a version of his own. With a bit of luck and perserverance, this original ramen became an instant hit. Then, in 1964, Kato-san was involved in a car accident and experienced a severe case of amnesia. He never regained his memory and it was thought that his exquisit ramen recipe would be lost forever. That is when his son, Naozumi, and grandson, Nobumasa (who is also the head of the museum), gathered the memories of all their relatives and townspeople and began to recreate this famous soup. And finally just last year, 60 years after this tragic accident, it is believed that this recreation was painstakingly attained.
The shoyu ramen is flat out the best I’ve ever had. The very first thing I noticed when trying the soup was an unnatural burnt taste that left my taste buds spinning. It turns out that the lard is charred before being inserted to the broth. Wow! This cloudy soup does not disappoint. The toppings (chashu, menma, negi) were great as well. You can also add raw garlic if you like. There’s plenty of it in a jar on the table. The noodles were also outstanding. I must be living a dream.
Komurasaki – Kumamoto City: While others were inserting raw garlic to their ramen, Komurasaki had the delightful idea of grilling it to emphasize its spice. Its mild tonkotsu nature blended with chicken bones are further enhanced with this grilling technique.
I ordered the Oosama-ramen, their most popular one. The soup reminded me a lot like Shinsengumi back home, but with a lot more to offer. The toppings (chashu, menma, moyashi, negi, mushrooms, and charred garlic) were plentiful and overwhelming. The thin hakata-style noodles were also a hit. I thought about only taking a few sips to save room for others, but I ended up finishing the entire bowl. It was too good to let waste.