Rāmen is a food for all seasons, but it takes on a special appeal when the mercury drops below freezing point.
With Sapporo’s cold winter air sucking all the heat out of my tropic-reared body, is it any wonder that I was game for another steaming-hot bowl just a day after my last one?
Name? Ezokko (えぞっこ).
Date of visit? 09 February 2014.
Where? Somewhere in the bowels of JR Sapporo Station. Tabelog‘s map may come in handy for navigation.
Operating hours? 10:30-22:30.
How much? Figure on 900 yen or thereabouts for a bowl of rāmen. The house special will cost you about twice that.
English menu? Yes.
Links? Tabelog has a comprehensive write-up on the store, including an accurate map – though it helps if you know a little Japanese.
With a side trip to a neighbouring city still on my to-do list for the day (more on that in my next post), a quick – and preferably piping-hot – lunch was in order. Fortunately, there was no shortage of restaurants serving the swing-by-and-go crowd at Sapporo’s main transport hub, and it wasn’t long before I settled on the following place . . .
. . . eager to tuck into another bowl of Sapporo-style rāmen.
The dining area had a mix of seating options available, from counter stools to tables and chairs. As was my custom, I avoided the peak mealtime rush and caught the restaurant when there were still relatively few people about, which meant that I didn’t have to wait long for a place.
Ezokko’s top-end offering is a jewel-box of fruits de mer on a golden sea of miso-flavoured broth concealing a nest of rāmen . . . but with my seafood phobia as strong as ever I steered well clear of that one.
Instead, I went for a far simpler bowl of rāmen with butter and corn – the same regional variant I first tried in Asahikawa the day before.
I like the presentation: a mix of both contrasting and complementary colours (which includes the red glazed rim of the bowl itself) and all key ingredients – save for the noodles – heaped high and clearly visible, instead of half-sunk and barely floating above the surface of the soup.
I’m also thankful for the inclusion of a small slotted spoon. Not much good for slurping soup, of course – that’s the job of the regular soup spoon resting alongside it – but it later did excellent service at salvaging the yummy bits and pieces of solid ingredients left in the bowl (stray corn kernels in particular) after all the noodles were gone.
As for the noodles themselves, they were of the wavy yellow type that appears to be standard-issue in bowls of Sapporo-style rāmen.
The soup was of the same miso-based variety I had at Baikōken the previous day, although the taste profile was quite different. Perhaps a little stronger in flavour, and there was also a hint of sourness present that was not exactly to my liking but not at all unpleasant. This was the second time I’ve had Sapporo-style miso rāmen and whilst I enjoyed both, it also reinforced my personal preference for the rich tonkotsu broth used in Hakata-style rāmen (Ichiran is a good place to try that variant).
As with my experience at Baikōken, Ezokko’s inclusion of butter and corn was a welcome touch, with the butter adding extra richness and the corn bringing in both texture and a tincture of sweetness.
Overall, I’d say it was a good meal, though people with more varied and adaptive diets (which include seafood) might enjoy the experience even more than I did as they would be able to sample more items from the menu (including that lavish special bowl we spoke of earlier).