January 27, 16 | Yuki Konishi
Enjoy Kushiro ramen at “Maruhira” with the scent of dried bonito soup
“Kushiro ramen” is said to be the 4th Hokkaido ramen. The characteristics of Kushiro ramen is its curly noodles and the broth based on dried bonito. The history of Kushiro ramen is pretty long, and the originator just celebrated 80th anniversary. There are about 90 Kushiro ramen restaurants in the city of Kushiro, but from all of them, I will introduce “Maruhira”, the long established restaurant loved by the locals.
▲Redecorated 2 years ago. Once you open the door, you will be surrounded by the mouth-watering scent of dried bonito.
Maruhira is located in the middle of the hill of a residential area, which is away from the downtown and 10 minutes by car from Kushiro station. I have to admit that it is not an easy-access restaurant, but Maruhira is so popular that the seats will be filled right after the opening at 9:30 a.m.
Opened in 1959. The master now Masao Hirano is the 4th generation. Mr. Hirano has took over the restaurant his relatives started, 22 years ago.
▲Mr. Hirano, the 4th generation
“The first worked extremely hard and studied about ramen almost all by himself right after the war, to reach the Maruhira’s taste. I definitely do not want to change the taste, and I will not. I strictly follow the rules and instructions” Mr. Hirano says.
Menu has not changed over the generations, simply syoyu (soy sauce) and shio (salt). No alcohol menu available.
▲Syoyu and shio is about 7:3, syoyu is more popular. You are able to add extra green onions, bamboo shoots and roasted pork fillets in 100 yen.
▲Maruhira uses slightly curled noodles. The noodles are thin but body is strong and chewy.
Wow! The beautiful transparent soup. The soup is based on dried bonito broth and it’s very light. I can understand that many people drink all the soup. Toppings are also simple. Roasted pork fillet, bamboo shoots, green onions, and seaweed. This ramen reminds me the good old Showa period.
▲The design of bowls also have not changed for generations.
By the way, opening from 9:30 a.m. in a residential district sounds a bit too early. Why is it?
“I heard that at first the restaurant’s opening hours was from 10:00 a.m. However, customers who have finished their first work in the morning at the shore had to wait for the opening. The master at that time felt sorry for them and decided to open from 9:30 a.m. Since then, opening hours have not changed until now” the wife Yoshiko-san says.
The seats are filled in the morning with fishing related people and taxi drivers even now.
▲Even though the seats are filled, their combination won’t let customers wait.
Mr. Hirano and Yoshiko-san not only says “thank you” but also “take care” to customers when they leave. Mr. Hirano and Yoshiko-san quit the job they had and took over Maruhira, so they wanted to express their deep thankful feeling for coming to Maruhira to the customers, no matter how outside is hot or cold. “We are here because there are customers who come to Maruhira”.
It is not easy to provide stable deliciousness for more than half a century. I was so satisfied with good-old taste and Mr. Hirano and Yoshiko-san’s heartfelt words. I understood why this port town ramen is loved by the locals so much.
Written by / Hokkaido Likers writer Yuki Konishi
Photograph / Riku Iwanami