Souping it Up at Sapporo With My Family’s Soup King
On Friday I had lunch plans with my brother, who is hands down the soup aficionado of our family. I don’t mind soup; he can’t get enough of the stuff. To decide where we would go for lunch, I sent him a link to Lunch’er Grace’s Ultimate Midtown Soup List, and after careful perusal, he chose Sapporo- so we could try their tantan-men, a Japanese sesame paste broth with pork and scallions.
I hadn’t been to Sapporo (on 49th btw. 6+7th) in awhile so I was happy to oblige. Out of the three Midtown Lunch’ish, sit down ramen places in Midtown (Sapporo, Menchanko Tei and Men Kui Tei) I’d probably rate Sapporo my least favorite, but after this visit, I am starting to really enjoy the charm to the place. It has a casualness and vibrancy that is missing from the stodgier other two. And while their ingredients (especially the pork) aren’t as high quality, they do make a mean bowl of soup.
We both really liked the tantan-men. Despite being rich looking, the flavor of sesame wasn’t too overpowering. It had a great kick, and if you like ground pork and scallions, you will definitely enjoy this soup. As always the noodles were perfect. It’s a nice change of pace if you are sick of ordering the miso or shoyu ramen (the two most popular choices.) Admittedly the tantan-men doesn’t have as much “stuff” as the other soups, and it is slightly more expensive, so if the fillings is what you’re after, you may be better off going with a different choice.
Since it’s summertime, I went with the Hiyashi Chuka, or cold noodle soup special. Available only during the summer months, Sapporo’s version is very good. Chock full of stuff (unlike the tantan-men) I could do without some of their seemingly out of place toppings (the fake crab sticks, corn, and tomato) but overall the sweet and vinegary sauce/cold broth at the bottom was pretty tasty. My favorite part? They give you plenty of karashi, a mustard-like paste that I’m guessing they mixed with wasabi; it had an awesome kick. Smudged against the side of the bowl, you can perfectly distribute the spiciness as you see fit. Although I’ve always said Men Kui Tei was my favorite ramen place, Sapporo’s hiyashi chuka may be better.
Thanks to Lunch’er Grace for the fantastic suggestion.