Today's Ramen is also considered a ramen of the "Jun Sumi" variety, with the rich miso and curly yellow noodles.
The shop's name is 狼スープ, Ookami Soup. Ookami means wolf.
No, the soup does not contain any wolf meat or something... A lot of Ramen shops use names with reference to Nature and life. In fact, pretty much every Ramen shop I've written of so far has had a name related to one of the two.
Ookami soup specializes in Miso Ramen. In fact it's the only thing they have on their menu, either Miso or Miso with soft boiled egg as a condiment. I would suggest you enjoy miso if you plan on visiting here after reading this entry.
Considering the legacy already established by Sumire and Junren, I was skeptical of a Miso Ramen shop claimed to be "Jun Sumi Style" by reviewers online. We all love originality after all. The reviews were rather positive on Tabelog however, as of this writing the average rating is 3.7/5. In fact, Ookami Soup is one of the top 10 ramen restaurants in all of Hokkaido on that website.
That's pretty much an invite to try some ramen.
To be honest though, I have almost no information about this restaurant. I don't even know when it opened, or any secret little morsels about its history. If anyone has any information, Japanese or English, please let me know and I will update accordingly.
The shop is fairly small, which is some good Rule 3.
Despite my lack of knowledge of the shop, it seems immensely popular. Those writings on the ceiling are actually autographs typical of Japan, big thick cardboard like material that celebrities put their signatures on. Ookami Soup has them all the way to the ceiling.
I went with a friend (my ramen obsession has quickly spread amongst my circle of friends), and we arrived at 11 am, opening hours. Within 15 minutes the shop was full. At lunch. On a Tuesday.
This place is popular.
So let's examine the food. I ordered Miso with Egg.
First noting the color, it's a bit more orange than Sumire or Junren, which I liked.
The noodles are made by Nishiyama Noodle Company, the same company that makes noodles for Aji No Sanpei. So they are good, as expected, though we do love house made stuff more don't we?
I was worried however, about another Sumire/Junren knockoff. When you get labeled with that online, it means you resemble theirs at least to some degree.
However, I will say that Ookami managed to escape being a mere clone, and they do this through a very complex spice profile in the soup. Perhaps it's my palate that discerned this, but I honestly got hints of cinnamon and cardamom, with a slight hit of anise even. These rooty, musky spices are not as prominent, nor really used at all in the original, and so, at the very least, I have to applaud the store for actually pushing out of the box with some unique spices. It even had a little heat of chili flake.
But unfortunately, the majority of other characteristics are just not all that amazing. The egg is average, the noodles are good but not astounding, because they're factory made, the pork extremely tender but flavor wise normal, even the bamboo shoots are ordinary. I was extremely impressed with the soup for it's unique spice profile and interesting character, mellow yet complex, rich yet not overbearing, and not overly salty, but it just isn't enough when being compared to such legends in my opinion.
After all, Ookami Soup does have that label tacked on.
In good news, Ookami Soup does prevail in terms of location, as it is located just outside of Nakajima Park. For the tourist, Nakajima Park is a wonderful little escape from the city with a beautiful lake, trees, playground, and activities, and the location is accessible by a stop on the Nanboku subway line. You can rent a boat and paddle out to the lake, and afterwards, Ookami soup is right there to fill you up.
With that being said, if you plan on going to Nakajima Park, Ookami Soup is essentially a must visit for a quick, inexpensive, delicious lunch. But if going there is something out of the way, you might as well take the full trip down the Nanboku subway line to Junren or Sumire. They both exist down that way anyhow.
Ookami Soup 狼スープ
http://ameblo.jp/ookami-soup/ (Shop's Blog)