A taste of ramen in the flat head

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After opening a few Japanese steakhouses in Bozeman and Helena over a decade ago, Hongyan Cai, a Chinese immigrant, saw a trend in ramen restaurants and traveled to Japan to learn the trade, returning to Montana with authentic recipes and opening Hokkaido Ramen House to Hélène in 2018.

In less than three years, Cai already has eight different sites in western Montana and Idaho and plans to continue to expand.

“It wants to be the biggest ramen franchise in America,” said John Watson, otherwise known as John E. Ramen, the general manager of the brand new Kalispell location.

With restaurants in Bozeman, Great Falls, Billings, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and soon Coeur d’Alene, Hokkaido in Kalispell opened last August in the former Staggering Ox at Hutton Ranch Plaza.

After Cai’s visit to Japan, he crafted Hokkaido’s first menu, which he has since expanded to 12 different ramen dishes, including pork, beef, chicken, vegetarian, spicy, and gluten-free options.

A sushi roll from Hokkaido Ramen House in Kalispell on September 15, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flat head beacon

“It’s not very often that you get something unique and authentic,” Watson said. “He studied in Japan and started working on new recipes. We are definitely the most authentic ramen you can find and all of our ingredients are made from the ground up.

Most dishes are made from bone broth boiled for eight hours, and the homemade pork and egg recipe uses marinated meat for three days and pickled eggs for 24 hours. Popular vegetables include bean sprouts and bamboo shoots, and there’s a miso option as well.

While restaurants were originally intended to serve only ramen as a main course, location general manager Helena suggested adding sushi to the menu. Hokkaido now serves sushi in most places except Bozeman and Billings, mainly due to lack of space.

Now, with around 50 different sushi rolls on the menu, Hokkaido offers traditional rolls, specialty rolls, and four fried rolls dipped in tempura, including the popular Bozeman Fried Roll with Salmon, Avocado and Cheese. cream topped with eel sauce and spicy mayonnaise. .

John Earl Watson, General Manager of Hokkaido Ramen House in Kalispell on September 15, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flat head beacon

Boba tea, also known as bubble tea, was another menu item Cai didn’t originally intend to sell, but Watson says it turned out to be a successful addition. . Usually made with tapioca balls, teas come in a variety of flavors including green apple, passion fruit, and peach, as well as special flavors like matcha cheese mousse, Thai tea, and toffee. Brown sugar. Tapioca can also be replaced with chia seeds.

Watson says the menu is more heavily ramen-based right now, but sushi, appetizers, and boba tea are becoming more popular as the restaurant grows.

The Kalispell site is currently in the process of obtaining a cabaret license to potentially sell beer, wine and sake.

Hokkaido Ramen House is located at 110 Hutton Ranch Rd., Suite 101 in Kalispell and is open Monday through Thursday 11 am to 2:30 pm for lunch, 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm for dinner, Friday and Saturday from 11 am. : 30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information visit www.hokkaidoramen.life.


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