It was summer but the skies were grey and the wind gave me goosebumps under my jacket. We had arrived at the entrance of the ramen shop. Sliding the door open, we stepped inside. The air was thick with humidity, a warm welcome and respite from Sapporo’s chilly streets.

It was only 5pm but the small restaurant was almost full. There were salarymen, teenage boys, a young couple and a pair of schoolgirls. After settling into our counter seats, we placed our order.

Behind the counter in the open kitchen, the two cooks were focused on their respective tasks: dropping handfuls of curly yellow noodles into bubbling hot water, scooping thick brown miso stock from a huge pot, topping bowls of ramen with a heaping portion of beansprouts, etc.

While waiting for our food, I noticed the rhythmic slurping of noodles rising against the Japanese hip hop music in the background. Someone once told me that it is socially acceptable in Japan to make loud slurping noises when eating noodles and it is even regarded as a compliment to the chef as it means you are enjoying the food.

Two huge bowls of piping hot noodles, each bigger than my face, soon appeared in front of us. We briefly clasped both hands in front of us and excitedly said “itadakimasu“.

Eating springy noodles and drinking thick salty broth on a cool day is oishii! Normally, I would not eat the fat on a slice of meat. But it was cold outside and the extra energy would be handy. With chopsticks in hand, I deftly picked up sliver after sliver of cha shu (roast pork) and enjoyed the sensation of the melting fat in my mouth.

Later when we stepped back onto the windy street, I zipped up my jacket and wrapped my arms around myself. At least my stomach was warm.

Shingen 信玄 らーめん
Address: 8 Nishi, Minami-6jo,Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0806, Hokkaido / 〒064-0806北海道 札幌市中央区 南六条西 8
Opening hours: Daily from 1130 to 0100

4 replies on “Vignettes of Japan #1: Ramen on a cool summer day

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