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Hasegawa Ramen (はせ川 松山店) up in Fukushima's Kitakata region is one of the more popular ramen shops in the area, serving up local Kitakata style ramen in a variety of bowls.
The soup uses a niboshi sardine base as well as pork bones and chicken, flavoured with soy sauce or salt. The kake-ramen options are the basic choices at 550 yen, with additional char siu (up to 3 slices) available to add to the base bowl. Quite why I felt it necessary to max out on char siu I'm not entirely sure—perhaps my image of Kitakata-style ramen was stereotyped by such meat-heavy versions like Bannai—but the char siu was top quality.
Remaining standard toppings include onion, bamboo shoots and Narutomaki slice (fish kamaboko) – many people like to add black pepper too midway, which can mix up the flavour somewhat. You can also add extras for a small ¥100 charge each, like ajitama egg, butter and extra menma (bamboo shoots).
Saturdays are all about the limited edition menu, 'Black Hasegawa', with additional menu choices such as 'Shimofuri' (with extra pork fat in the soup) and Aka-Shimofuri (a spicy version) suddenly available too.
Hasegawa is about a 10 minute drive north of Kitakata station. A tent outside the restaurant provides shelter while you wait – which may often be the case, given the ramen shop's reputation in Kitakata, but also the special menu made available on Saturdays. Hasegawa is closed on Thursdays and the first Wednesday of every month.
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