★★★ 山岡家 (Yamaoka-ke) - Sapporo
Yamaoka is a relative new comer to the Sapporo ramen scene that started its first store back in 1992. This is actually a large ramen chain store that started in Ibaraki prefecture closer to Tokyo, but the owner had a long admiration for Sapporo style ramen and wanted to test his creation in one of the oldest ramen markets in Japan. I figured if he wanted to survive in Sapporo he better have a good 味噌ラーメン (Miso ramen), which is what I ordered.
The Soup - was a thick and rich tonkotsu based soup that had none of the strong pork bone smell. The miso they used looked like a white miso paste that tasted quite mild. They use red miso paste for the 辛味噌ラーメン (spicy miso ramen), which is deep red in color from the miso and the tons of red chili powder is uses. There was a layer of oil on the soup to keep the heat of the soup, just like other Sapporo ramen, the soup was so hot it burnt your tongue.
The Noodles - are very nice, these thick, curly ramen noodles that are cooked firm and are springy and chewy. Ofcourse the ramen here took a long time to cook and I had to wait quite a bit.
The Toppings - were simple, a slice of cha-shu roasted pork, some boiled green vegetables, 3 big sheets of nori dried seaweed and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The roasted pork was so-so, but the seaweed was a nice match to the soup.
Overall - a richer, oilier, less refined version of Sapporo ramen, perfect for those cold winter nights before you head home after work or school. If you were to be very picky you could say this isn't even real authentic Sapporo style ramen. The tonkotsu flavor dominated soup is not the standard in Sapporo, but this ramen has gotten so popular that it now has many chain stores in the area. There is even one in Tokyo if you don't want to go all the way north.