★★★★ 白樺山荘 (Shirakaba Sansou) - Sapporo
Shirakaba Sansou is a recent darling of the ramen scene in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Started 8 years ago by a Japanese salary man who decided to quit his day job and go into the ramen business, after numerous trials and errors he finally came up with the perfect balanced miso ramen that put him on the map. Needless to say, I tried the 味噌ラーメン (Miso ramen) on my first trip to this ramen store.
The Soup - is HOT!!! The soup is covered with a thin layer of oil that keeps the heat, be careful not to burn your tongue. The soup is a rich broth, most likely a pork bone-seafood blend soup. But neither the flavor of the pork bone or seafood overpowers, making this a really well balanced miso flavored soup.
The Noodles - are normal thickness curly noodles, cooked at regular firmness. Nothing fancy here, just good old fashion ramen noodles. The focus seems to be put on the delicious soup.
The Toppings - are menma bamboo, kikurage mushroooms, green onions, nori dried seaweed and small chunks of cha-shu pork. Every topping is a good match with the soup, again, nothing fancy here that overpowers the soup.
Overall - make this the first ramen you try when visiting Sapporo. It is located right near Sapporo station in the 札幌ら～めん共和国 (Sapporo Ramen Republic). The owner of the ramen store mentions that the secret to his ramen is not the ingredients, but achieving the perfect balance between everything. I tried many miso ramen in Sapporo during my short trip there, Shirakaba definitely is the most memorable because of the well balanced soup.