Winter in Niigata comes with a mixed baggage–some bitter and some sweet offers! Well, within Japan, Niigata has a clear image of being a snowy part. Even though challenges come along with getting the car out of the parking lot and shoveling the drive way but there are advantages as well. Embracing the whites of winter in Niigata with a bowl of your favorite ramen totally makes winter worthwhile. In general too, Japanese drink a lot of soup but specially in winter they emphasize having ramen more often to beat the winter chills. Ramen comes with several choices: miso, salt, soy sauce, and pork bone. Well, my favorite one is miso and the place I recommend the most is from Sanpoutei. Many Niigata dwellers must have treated themselves to this place but to visitors and new residents of Niigata, it might still be an unexplored treasure.
I'm sometimes lazy to cook at night and to no surprise for the month of December, weather is snowy and cold. What better reason could I have to ask my husband to dine out? When I rang up to let my husband know that I was planning for a Japanese dinner, he undoubtedly knew I was craving for Sanpoutei Ramen. So right he was and we headed to the restaurant. My husband and I often visit the store close to Toyosaka area in Niigata because that is closest to our residence. "Sanpoutei" is a ramen chain restaurant that has been around since 1967. You can tell this from the T-shirts of the servers working in the restaurant. It first started in Niigata but great to know that it has extended now across Japan and also overseas (including a branch in Canada, Yay!)
Bowl of Ramen
Sanpoutei never ceases to fascinate me with its beautiful ambiance. Everything looks top notch; the layout, the service and most of all consistency to the taste of food. Since it is a very popular one in town for ramen, sometimes you may need to wait until the crowd slows down a bit. We were asked to wait couple of minutes before we were escorted by the delightful staff to the cozy seating. Okay, it was time to order! I have a fixed order at this place (as you already know, miso ramen). I usually order it without meat (niku nashi in Japanese). It is not that with added minced pork the food becomes any less delicious; but myself, being a weight watcher, find Ramen with extra meat very heavy. I wanted to satisfy both my taste buds and my metabolism. And of course, I added the gyoza to my order as gyoza and ramen compliment each other so well. My husband ordered miso ramen as well but with meat added to it.
Gyoza Picked with Chopsticks
Okay, now my order came in; my hot and steamy ramen arrived in a super big bowl along with my side dish gyoza. Ramen looked so yummy and the aroma of the egg noodles was so appealing. I love the texture of ramen in this place because the flat and wavy noodles are soft yet firm and springy. I was tempted to slurp the noodles right away but I had to be patient or else I would have to regret it later for not being able to get the taste of it after burning off my taste buds. Slowly I gathered guts to start with the soup. I picked the spoon and tasted it. Amazing as always! As usual, there was consistency in the creamy texture of the soup which is relatively thicker than other places I have tried. My husband once asked what makes the soup so thick and the server revealed that the broth is boiled for at least 6 hours to extract the goodness from the bones. I also love the ramen in this place because they lavishly add some delicious black mushrooms that does wonders to the flavors. On top of that a lot of green additions like finely sliced cabbage, ring shaped finely chopped green onions and bean sprouts add healthy vitamins to this heavenly dish. I usually add a lot of wasabi/chili sauce to my miso ramen to add some fragrance and flavor. This addition does a very good job in upgrading the taste of the ramen without altering its originality. The bowl fully satisfies your hunger and you will not want to waste a drop of soup.
Bowl of Ramen and Gyoza Set
If only there was a tipping culture in Japan, needless to say, this restaurant would make extra money for the yummy food and the excellent service. As always, after finishing the big bowl of ramen, we walked out of the restaurant fully gratified and with intentions to drop in again sometime soon!
NOTE: There is usually a queue during lunch or dinner hours so be patient because the wait is worth it!
The store I hopped into to satisfy my hunger is located @Niigata City, Kita-ku, Kuzutsuka 1260
TEL: 025-388-3360 / FAX: 025-388-3390
Price: way reasonable!! We paid something around ¥900 for a big bowl of miso ramen!!
Regular Days - 11: 00 ~ 15: 30 / 17: 00 ~ 22: 30 Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays- 11:00 ~ 22: 30