Sapporo Ramen Alley (札幌 ラーメン横丁) – Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan (Hokkaido)

With roots dating back to 1951, Sapporo’s Ramen Alley in Susukino is inexplicably one of the best places to visit on this Earth. Okay so I’m a bit biased when I say that, but this alley is home to some of the best miso ramen in the world. With a total of 17 (yes 17!) ramen shops lining both sides of the alley, you can easily become overwhelmed when making your decision. But fear not, there’s a reason why each one is here so just start from one end and make your way to the back.

The lineup:

Take the Nanboku line to Susukino Station. From there it’s just a 2-minute walk south and to your left. You cannot miss it!

Asahikawa Ramen Village (旭川 ラーメン村) – Nagayama, Asahikawa, Japan (Hokkaido)

Built in 1996 to pay tribute to the best ramen that Asahikawa city has to offer, the Asahikawa Ramen Village (ラーメン村) brings together 8 proud ramen shops in one convenient location. Yes, all of these ramen-ya’s can be found within the city, but where else can you circle them all in less than a minute. AND there’s even a ramen shrine that (I’ve heard) holds wedding ceremonies. How cool is that! I didn’t get a chance to eat at any of the shops, but I know someday I will…

The lineup:

The nearest station is Minaminagayama but don’t count on getting here by train. You might be waiting for hours. The easiest way to get here is by car. Unfortunately, for most of us that means taxi and a one-way trip from Asahikawa Station can set you back 2,100 yen (~$21). There’s always the option to walk, but that could take an hour in itself. Like I said before, the main shops for all of these ramen-ya’s can be found within Asahikawa city so only go here if you really, really, really want to. I did.

Ramen House Aoba (らうめん青葉) – 2Jodori, Asahikawa, Japan (Hokkaido)

Ramen (or Raumen) House Aoba is the oldest ramen shop in Asahikawa. It reaches 3 generations deep and while the rest of the city has embraced the influx of tonkotsu-shoyu ramen, Aoba has stayed true to its roots with a pure assari-kei shoyu ramen made with the freshest blend of land and sea. You won’t find any tonkotsu in this soup, which consists mainly of torigara, konbu, and various vegetables. The noodles are made fresh and it shows. If you’re lucky, you may even get to sit down and chat with the ramen master–Murayama-san.

From Asahikawa Station head East away from the main shopping street and take a left on the next big street heading North. Walk five blocks and it’ll be on your left. It’s about five minutes from the station. They open at 9:30am and close at 10pm (9:30pm on Sundays). They are closed on Wednesdays. Grab a seat and try to embrace the history.

Other sites that mention Asahikawa Raumen Aoba:

Ramen Santouka Honten (らーめん山頭火 旭川本店) – 1Jodori, Asahikawa, Japan (Hokkaido)

Many of you regard Santouka as “The Best Ramen in LA!” While that may be true, wait until you try the original location in Asahikawa! It’s not in a mini-mall, it’s not in a food court, and it’s not in a Mitsuwa. Although the “secret white soup” may not differ much in flavor, the freshness is immediately realized and it WILL make you smile. I only wish I could’ve tried everything else on the menu. The toppings were all 10x better than what I’ve had in the States and the noodles did not disappoint.

From Asahikawa Station head East away from the main shopping street and take a left on the next big street. Walk one block and you’ll see it on the left. It’s barely a minute from the station. They open at 9:30am and close at midnight. If you go when they open, the toroniku might not be ready yet so just an FYI. Have a seat and wait for them to take your order. For lunch, they offer a free rice ball and salted plum. Make sure you only take one of each…hehe.

Other sites that mention Santouka Asahikawa Honten:

Ramen No Hachiya (ラーメンの蜂屋) – 5Jodori, Asahikawa, Japan (Hokkaido)

If you ask anyone about Ramen No Hachiya, they either love it or hate it. Let me just say this: If you don’t like a strong niboshi (fish) flavor, then you’ll hate it. But if you like niboshi blended with tonkotsu-shoyu and burnt lard, you’ll love it. I recommend going all out with the koi (strong) version of the Shoyu Ramen. It’s pretty intense. The noodles are the typical starchy, thick, chewy type that Asahikawa is known for and they are delicious.

From Asahikawa Station head straight down the main shopping street (between all the department stores). After ten blocks make a left and it will be on your left. Just look for the big sign. There are two entrances: One from the alley called ふらりーと and the other from the small parking lot on the other side. Grab a seat and wait for them to take your order.

Other sites that mention Ramen No Hachiya:

Ramenya Tenkin (らーめんや天金) – 4Jodori, Asahikawa, Japan (Hokkaido)

If I had to choose a favorite from my recent trip, Ramenya Tenkin would be very near the top. A two-day process of boiling pork bones (豚骨) and chicken bones (鶏がら) defines this top-notch soup. Add some thick shoyu that’s derived from the chashu making process and viola!…The signature Asahikawa-style Shoyu Ramen is born. Almost everyone I talked to said Tenkin was their favorite. And that’s some high praise in a city filled with great ramen shops on almost every corner. You get a free bowl of rice during lunch, but if you want to avoid the crowds I recommend you go around 2 or 3.

From Asahikawa Station head right away from the main shopping street and take a left on the next big street. It’s the street where you see all the taxi drivers entering their parking lot. Head north away from the station for seven blocks then make a right. Ramenya Tenkin will be on your left. Grab a seat and place an order with the waitress. They are open from 11am-9pm and closed on holidays.

Other sites that mention Ramenya Tenkin:

Kushiro Ramen Kawamura (釧路ラーメン河むら) – Suehirocho, Kushiro, Japan (Hokkaido)

After 20 years of ramen training, the owner of Kushiro Ramen Kawamura finally set out to make a name for himself. He claims that his ramen has a flavor you can’t get sick of even if you ate it everyday. The respectable shoyu ramen is a “simple” blend of torigara and onion that results in a refreshing (さっぱり) taste. The noodles are not homemade but “custom-ordered.” It’s quite possibly the most recognized and most recommended ramen-ya in all of Kushiro, but don’t expect it to blow you away. It’s billed as an “orthodox” shoyu ramen and is just that. I can eat it everyday, can you?

From Kushiro Station head nine blocks directly south on Kitaodori (the main street leading to the river). Make a left on the street AFTER the big intersection where the 44 and 38 meet. In another block and a half, Kawamura will appear on your left. Walk in and place your order after taking a seat. They are closed on Mondays.

Other sites that mention Kushiro Ramen Kawamura:

Kushiro Ramen Ginsui (釧路ラーメン銀水) – Suehirocho, Kushiro, Japan (Hokkaido)

Kushiro Ramen Ginsui is the kind of ramen-ya you would want in your neighborhood. The kind where you can relax, chat with old friends, and eat some great food. The shoyu ramen here is key, but I’ve heard the shio, miso, and pirikara aren’t bad either. I ordered the Shoyu Chashu Men where you can choose between two types of chashu–fatty or lean. Of course I chose fatty and was surprised by its moist crunch. If you like an oily shoyu ramen made with torigara, katsuo, and konbu then you’ve definitely come to the right place. This IS Hokkaido!

From Kushiro Station head nine blocks directly south on Kitaodori (the main street leading to the river). Make a left on the street AFTER the big intersection where the 44 and 38 meet. Then walk two more blocks and make a right. After another block you’ll see Ginsui on your left. Wait to be seated and order from the waitress. They’re open from 11am to midnight and closed on Wednesdays.

Some other sites that mention Kushiro Ramen Ginsui:

Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium (池袋餃子スタジアム) – Toshima-ku, Tokyo, Japan

If you go crazy for gyoza, then you may want to stop by the Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium while visiting Tokyo. While there’s plenty of gyoza specialty shops throughout the city, there’s only one place where you can find 11 famous shops from all over the country of Japan in one spot. You might just call it the G spot. Haha…okay I’m stupid.

It’s located on the second floor of the Sunshine City building in the Namjatown theme park. From the JR Ikebukuro Station take the East exit and head East. I got lost so it’s probably better if you find the nearest Koban (police station) like I did and get better directions. But it’s definitely East from the station. Go early and go hungry.

Other sites that mention Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium:

Ajino-Kizuna (味の絆) – Instant 生 Ramen

It’s like giving a pig a bath in some really expensive sake, stuffing its mouth with gallons of lightly charred soy sauce, then giving it a big fat kiss. Mmmm…ma! Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain. Ajino-Kizuna is a “dream collaboration” between two legendary shops in the ramen world–Shinasobaya and Kurume Taiho. Need I say anything more?

It’s basically Kurume Taiho’s amazing tonkotsu soup mixed with Shinasobaya’s kogashi (charred) shoyu. The only way to describe it would be: A harmonius blend of instant pacification. It’s a tonkotsu-shoyu ramen worth writing home about.

The dried garlic chips are an added benefit that makes this dream come alive. The soup sticks to your lips as if you’ve been making out for hours. Trust me, you won’t want to stop.

The thin Kurume-style noodles contain Shinasobaya’s famed chlorella and they really taste impressive. If only it came with kaedama.

I think you’d want to try this one. Next time I’ll be sure to buy the gift pack. I would have loved to share it with you.