Get in line for the best tonkotsu ramen in town
The trick to handling the line outside this Japanese ramen shop is simple – take a number, leave someone to wait for you and head across to Crazy Wing to pick up some smoky grilled things on sticks for a standing entrée. The reason you’ll want a queue plan for Hakata Gensuke is because you’ll always face one. This outpost of a ramen chain from Fukuoka chef Kousuke Yoshimura, and it holds Huxtaburger-like status among Japanese expats. For good reason.
They only deliver tonkotsu broth, and the result is some of the best in city. You can see the giant vats in the kitchen where bones are cooked down to create a classic collagen-rich soup. It’s creamy and intensely porky without relying on salt as a crutch.
The idea is to completely customise your soup. The broth itself can be embellished three ways, either with black sesame and garlic which gives it a slightly bitter edge; with soy, or chilli oil in four heat levels (they call it ‘Godfire’, and take note, spice fans, this god punishes fools who opt for grade four). The fine noodles can be ordered soft through to really hard (hard is fine) with the option to order a side serve of tsukumen – noodles for dipping into your leftover soup or an intensely salty ramen sauce.
Toppings-wise go for the holy trinity of crisp nori sheets, tender slices of roasted rolled pork belly (chashu) and a whole soft centred boiled egg, gently stained with soy. The vegetables and black fungus are all texture no taste. Next time we’ll stick to the free pickled ginger and roasted sesame seeds stationed on the communal tables and save our coins for the tiny but incredibly fresh pork and cabbage gyoza. Or the big golden hunks of karaage chicken with citrusy salt.
So here's the rub – there's no license, and those extras add up. Prepare to pay up to $20 for a fully dressed bowl of soup – and to be back on the street in 30 minutes flat with “irrashaimase” belting round your head. But in a city that sometimes seems to queue just for kicks, this is a line you want to be in.
|Venue name:||Hakata Gensuke|
168 Russell St
|Opening hours:||Daily noon-3pm; 5-9pm.|