New spot for ramen in the U District: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka.

Great choice on a night with a bit of fall chill in the air. The space is small so be prepared to wait during typical dining times. Like many restaurants, you can add your name to the waitlist and they will text when your table is ready. This visit the wait was under 30 minutes.

One of the fun things about writing this blog is that I get not only to share my experiences with all of you but I also learn a lot about different cuisines. Ramen is an example in that I am a neophyte when it comes to this very popular food.

So where to start? How about a distilled version of the complexities of this “noodle soup”?

First off the noodles contain no egg despite their color. It has to do with the alkaline properties of the dough that is used to make the noodles. There are 4 traditional flavors: 1. Shio (salt), 2. Shoyu (soy sauce), 3. Miso (miso) and 4. Tonkotsu (simmered pork bones). Typical adds include chashu (pork belly), ajitama (soft boiled egg) and various seafoods including kamaboko (white with a pink stripe). Beef is usually not an option and since things go better with pork, that’s fine with me. There are a myriad of toppings but include nori (seaweed), menma (bamboo shoots), kikurage (black fungus) and pickled ginger to name a few. There are also multiple “styles”….Tokyo (Shoyu), Hakodate (chicken broth instead of pork) and Hakata (Tonkotsu). I noticed on the menu Tsukemen and was unsure of what that was. In this variety, the noodles are served dry and you dip them in a thickened soup. Want more detail? Check out this source: Kobi Kitchen.

We started with gyoza (pork and chicken) which was very good and nicely presented. Now onto the experience with ramen. This establishment uses tonkotsu broth which is simmered for about 20 hours. My choice was kara (spicy) miso ramen with chashu and ajitama. You can order different sized bowls….small, regular and large…..I’d stick with small if you are moderately hungry, regular if you are hungry and large if you are famished. I choose regular and it was more that I could really eat comfortably. It was spicy but not too spicy….they have a choice that includes jalapenos if you want to kick it up a notch. It was all washed down with Sapporo from the tap.

Service was very good and they are more than happy to explain all things ramen if you ask. Located in U Village near the kid’s play area.

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