"Gatatan" - Available only in Ashibetsu!
You've probably never heard of the food "Gatatan" before. It's a local delicacy made in Ashibetsu City which is made from the ingredients pictured below!
Although "Gatatan" isn't the most appealing name for a food, this is a treat with quite a history in Ashibetsu. To sum up the whole dish in a single word, you could call it "soup" but the amount of ingredients are staggering!
The soup stock is made with chicken and pork bones, and it includes Chinese cabbage, bamboo shoots, pork, squid tentacles, beaten eggs, and more. Recently, it seems that ramen gatatan, as well as arranged set menus, have begun to appear in shops.
This dish was first created after the end of the second world war by the late Mr. Bungo Nosuke. Originally from China, Mr. Nosuke moved to Ashibetsu and began using Chinese home-style cooking techniques in his restaurant "Kouraku." Because of this the menu became wildly popular with local coal mine workers, and word of the dish began spreading.
There are now 12 shops in Ashibetsu city, each with their own unique flavor of gatatan. Because the ingredients and taste differ from store to store, I visited two locations to research this article.
First let me tell you about the gatatan at "Horai-ken."
The gatatan here is made with a pork based broth. The taste is salty but gentle on the pallet, making it easy to enjoy. (Also, the perfect dish for those hungover mornings!) The delicious taste of bamboo shoots and butterbur serve to accent the overall flavor. The delicious dumpling are made by hand in the shop by Mr. Yasuhiro Kudo.
I asked Mr. Kudo about the origin of the name "Gatatan" and he kindly explained.
"Well, I often hear the the name originated from the kanji "含多湯" (which mean roughly "Hot water with lots added.") however there are many theories behind the name's roots, so I'm not really sure what to believe!"
The second shop I visited was "Ashibetsu Tourist Center Restaurant - La Fleur" which is connected to a roadside station. Instead of offering a regular gatatan dish, they serve up gatatan fried rice, gatatan udon, and gatatan ramen, which is quite popular.
Aside from the salt flavor, they have soy sauce, miso, curry, and kimchi flavors. (870 Yen each.) The meal can be enjoyed with a bit of the shops original tare sauce, creating a delicious mix of flavors for you to enjoy.
Long time chef Mr. Morita explained that the noodles, "are all special ordered from a local noodle making company."
Mr. Morita isn't originally from Ashibetsu, so his take on the gatatan dish, using ramen, is original and has proved to be quite popular.
Because of this unique take on the food, as well as the high quality dishes served, the shop has gotten quite the reputation in town. It did not disappoint, everything I tried was fantastic!
Perhaps the best way to enjoy the restaurant is to visit with friends and share several dishes among the group, maximizing your taste experience!
There are many other gatatan restaurants in town, so please check them out on the site below!
Ashibetsu is located between Sapporo and Furano. For those planning on driving out, there are several temples that you can visit along the road to Ashibetsu. Be sure to visit and try this local delicacy if you're in the area!
(38-83 Kamiashibetsu Town, Ashibetsu)
【芦別市観光物産センター レストラン ラ・フルール】
(Ashibetsu Tourist Center Restaurant - La Fleur)
1, Kita 4-Jyo Higashi 1-Chome, Ashibetsu
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)
Photographs provided by Isao Kawamura.