It seems like overnight that an explosion of ramen shops have sprung up around town. Possibly the newest ramen shop that has opened is Hataka Gensuke on Russell Street. Big Fil and I were invited to try some ramen on its first day of its soft opening last week (it officially opened last Friday).
Hakata is a district in the city of Fukuoka where tonkotsu (pork bone noodle soup) ramen was first invented in Japan. This is the first time that Hakata ramen is available in Australia and Master Chef Kousuke Yoshimura is heading up his team to initiate Melbourne diners to this delicious soupy dish.
Upping the authenticity quotient, upon entering the restaurant, each diner is welcomed by a rousing IRASSHAIMASE! from all the staff. I’ve never experienced this before and I love it – it’s so infectious! You also get a rousing farewell when you leave.
We got to try chicken kaarage as our entrée. These have to be the best kaarage that I’ve ever eaten. The thinnest, crispiest crust which covered a trio of the juiciest chicken pieces. So very morish.
I had to try the signature tonkotsu ramen. For me, the quality of the ramen is in the soup. Made from a master stock, the soup here is made with lots of pork bones. It’s a very deep pork flavour and the soup has almost gelatinous texture to it due to the high amount of collagen in the bones (apart from the nutritional benefits this is great for those worried about avoiding wrinkles!)
Each table has a range of condiments, including do-it-yourself ground sesame seeds, minced garlic, dressings and pickled veg (shown above).
The noodles here are slightly chewier and flatter than your typical ramen noodles. You also get to customise your dish by choosing how firm you want your noodles to be. The tonkotsu comes with lots of spring onions, black fungus (wood ear) and a slice of pork.
Another condiment - fresh, pickled ginger (my favourite).
You can also add extra toppings, including marinated egg, bamboo shoots, seaweed, cha siu, veggies and even extra noodles. While you can customise your bowl of ramen, adding the extra ingredients could potentially turn it into a more expensive bowl of noodles.
Big Fil ordered the shio tonkotsu. I think ‘shio’ means ‘light’ and refers to the depth of flavour of the soup. It came with bamboo shoots, spring onions and also a slice of pork. While he admits that he isn't the biggest fan of ramen he did like the lighter, fresher, ‘cleaner’ taste of the broth. To him, the broth was definitely porky but without the somewhat ‘muddied’ flavours that he usually doesn't like.
Food – 7.5*
Service – 7.5
Ambience - 7
Price – 7*
*Scores are notional as we were guests of Hakata Gensuke
Hakata Gensuke is a great addition to ramen scene in the city. I really like the tonkotsu broth and there’s a great family vibe to the place. I’m going go back to try their black tonkotsu (the soup and noodles look black!), the gyozas and to have them delicious chicken kaarage again.
Hakata Gensuke Ramen
168 Russell St
Telephone: 9654 4040