Monday, September 24, 2018

栄屋 (Sakaeya in Yamagata)

栄屋 本店

Made it!

Sakaeya is probably the most famous shop in Yamagata City, and perhaps even the prefecture. To be honest, I don't know any real draw for this part of Japan, other than some nice outdoor areas and a few temples that show up on temple nerd's radars. That, and ramen.

According to this site, Yamagata Prefecture has the most ramen shops per capita. It's one of the least populous prefectures as well, so don't look too much into the data. More fun facts, Yamagata has a few distinct styles of ramen; spicy miso, fish, and cold ramen.

Cold ramen served year round.

You don't see this often; health checks.

As I turn 40 I'm reminded that I should cut 100 calories a day. Not interested.

Back to the ramen.

In 1952, Sakaeya invented this new style of chilled ramen to combat the summer heat. You might not see it in the photo, but there are actual ice cubes made of soup in there. This is different from hiyashichuka, a cold style of ramen invented in Tokyo that is more of a noodle with sauce dish. In recent years, though, naming conventions have gone out the window and anything cold can be called hiyashi.

Just remember that it all started here.

The noodles stay extra chewy in the cold broth, and the addition of some sliced cucumber make it extra refreshing.

This year, 2018, saw record highs. The world could use a little cold ramen.

Of course, all the stars have been.

The shop runs a little slow, and I missed my train back to Tokyo by a few minutes. Oops! Well, in Japan, you can always take the next train and sit in the non-reserved seats, or even take a local train home. Yes, this express train is almost three hours.

Website here.