At first, I couldn’t understand why people would be willing to wait in line just to get a table at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in Glorietta. But then again, I was never really into ramen. My cravings for Japanese food usually revolve around sukiyaki, sashimi, okonomiyaki and even takoyaki. Ramen, a typical Japanese noodle soup dish, is something that I’ve only recently learned to appreciate. So I guess you can say I’m a neophyte to this whole ramen craze.
As I have learned from my research, sometime in March 1988, a modest ramen shop called Ramen Santouka opened its very first store on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. It offered only one item on its menu– Shio Ramen (salt-flavored ramen). Soon enough, it became a big hit and now it can be enjoyed all over Japan and around Asia. Here’s why:
The soup is not served piping-hot as one would expect, but just the right temperature because the broth is only simmered, never boiled. Imagine all those pigs’ bones simmered for about 20 hours… yes, 20 hours! What you get is a creamy, rich and flavorful soup base for your ramen. Then they add in salt for its signature shio ramen (other soup flavors are miso [soybean paste] and shoyu [soy sauce] — which I have yet to try).
My daughter Bea says her favorite component of the shio ramen are the noodles, which are perfectly flavored to complement the delicious soup. I, on the other hand, love every single ingredient in the bowl. One slurp of the soup and I instantly felt like I was transported to Japan, one of my dream travel destinations. The chasu quite simply melts in the mouth while the menma and kikurage provide an extra layer of texture with their bit of firmness to the bite. The shio ramen is the only one garnished with the umezuke, which gives a slightly sour taste to the ramen. All together, the shio ramen is one perfect dish for the cool weather we’ve all been experiencing these past couple of weeks.