Six months into my life in Sapporo, I started hearing about these giant ramen places – the ramen was huge, not the establishment. It wasn’t until sometime in late 2014 or early 2015 that a friend finally took me to one of these establishments.
Yamajirou is a budget ramen restaurant, with the best ramen I have ever tasted in Japan, bar none. For as little as 600¥ you can eat enough ramen to keep yourself full enough for a whole day. For 800¥, you can get so much that you won’t be able to eat for 24 hours or so.
The menu is quite small, with only four types of ramen – ramen (small and normal size), tossed ramen (和え面), tossed ramen with the house miso (みそ和え面) and miso ramen (ヤマジみそ). There are also a number of add-ons, such as, extra noodles, extra vegetables, spicy sauce, and others. So you go up to the machine, put in the cash, press the button and get a ticket. Simple.
The magic starts when you take your place at the counter. The noodles they use are prepared in-house, and are thick and full, nothing like the standard thin, yellow ramen. The entire preparation takes about 10 minutes. With ramen or miso ramen, there is the option to get a ton of toppings – vegetables (boiled sprouts and boiled cabbage), pork fat, and chopped garlic – free of charge. The first time I went, I ordered the biggest bowl of ramen, with extra noodles and all the toppings. Predictably, by the time I finished the toppings, I was beyond full. I managed a couple mouths-ful of noodles before accepting defeat.
The real star of the establishment is the tossed ramen. This is essentially ramen without the broth. Thus the flavour is much stronger, and the dish that much more delicious. Moreover, the fat and ginger are served separately, so they can be added in at your discretion. The tossed ramen has the flavour of sunny side up runny egg yolks in salt and pepper (one of my favourite tastes), despite the lack of eggs. For all that, I prefer the tossed ramen with miso, and the flavour is that much more exquisite.
北海道札幌市北区北13条西4丁目1‐5 クローバービル 1F (Clover Building, 1-5, North 13 West 4, Kita Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido)
11.30 – 15.00; 17.00 – 21.00 (11.30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.); Weekly holiday: Wednesday.
Price: 500¥ to 1000¥ a person.
Notes: One or two people. There is a table that fits 4, but it may be occupied. Go early. Do not drink the all broth, if you value you stomach. If you can’t finish the bowl, retire gracefully.
For a list of other places I’m reviewing, go here.