Back again at Niseko and realised that a lot has changed over the last 4 years. Many more new luxury apartments has sprung up and the surrounding area from Hirafu is much more developed. But some good stuff never change, we had our dinner at Abucha-2 – that remained as popular as before. For our second night, we visited Niseko Ramen Kazahana. While on the transfer from Kutchan to Hirafu, our host updated us that the “must-eat” ramen has shifted to a new location further away from the Hifaru intersection and pointed it out to us while we drove passed the shop. The problem was when I visited Niseko in 2013, I don’t recall having read about this famous joint yet… According to their website, they shifted to Niseko Ski Resort in Dec 2012, probably back then not many people had blogged about this place?
In any case, during my subsequent years of keeping track of news of Niseko (cos I’ve always thought of returning to enjoy the best powder snow in the World), I started to know about this much-raved about Potato Ramen joint. Hirafu is quite a small town, so it’s not surprising that almost every skier (or snowboarder) who spent a few days at the resort area would have visited this eatery at least once. In fact I’ve managed to find out from the guy seated next to me on the Niseko United Shuttle that his group waited 30 mins to get into the place.
We trekked about 10 minutes under the light snow to get to the ramen place and was happy to see that there were only 2 names on the waiting list hung on the door. After a short 5-10 mins wait, we were led across the main hall and into a narrow corridor before being shown into a small room with tables that can seat 8 people.
I ordered the signature Niseko Ramen (Potato Ramen) under the impression that the ramen itself was made using potato instead of flour. You may be thinking – how silly can this gal be? But there is a Japanese noodle made from starch of potato, it’s called Gosetsu-udon.
Anyway, turns out this dish is called Potato Ramen because it is covered with a layer of frothy potato-cream vichyssoise. Hokkaido accounts for close to 80% of potato production in Japan and Niseko/Kutchan area is one of the top producers of potatoes in Hokkaido. Even the Kutchan mascot is a skiing potato. Due to the extreme climate and excellent soil conditions, the area is known for production of quality potatoes.
Granted that ramen is such a common dish in Japan, having this unique potato froth helped the eatery to stand out from the rest of the competition. The sweetness of the foam paired with the miso flavour soup base makes a perfect balance. I ended up slurping up the potato foam much faster than eating the ramen noodles. I don’t think they serve additional portion of the foam by itself do they?
As it was our first visit to the eatery, we weren’t sure if the Potato Ramen comes with other ingredients hence we didn’t ask to add in chashu nor ajitsuke tamago. On hindsight we found the ramen kinda plain without any of those toppings. Nonetheless it was a bowl of delicious hearty ramen that warms us up in the cold winter season.
Oh the spicy garlic edamame was pretty awesome too! The addition of chopped chili and minced garlic was not common in Singapore and it’s certainly something that I would try myself at home in future.
Earlier photos taken:
Spent our first day in the Annupuri ski area, this has been our fav mountain in Niseko as it’s less crowded.
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