HAKATA GENSUKE RAMEN PROFESSIONALS, MELBOURNE CBD: Super chill, casual eatery near China town on Russell Street that is always hustling and bustling with activity, people and LINES. If you go during prime dinner time (probably lunch time too) on ANY day of the weekend i.e. 6 – 8pm you are guaranteed to wait in line outside. We were feeling a bit sick with the cold so decided to warm our throats up with a nice bowl of steaming ramen soup and we weren’t disappointed! For extra speed and ease, they give you a menu to tick what you’d like to order, including personalisations such as strength of flavouring, texture of noodles and spring onions etc. We ordered normal strength, normal noodles and yes to spring onions (sorry if that’s too boring for you…) The interior is very small, cramped but cosy and noisy. The staff are loud with their “welcomes” and “thank yous” in Japanese, calling out every time a customer enters or leaves, and the entire atmosphere is just very upbeat and jostling with activity.
Signature Tonkotsu w. pork broth, thin noodles, pork cha-shu, black fungus and spring onions – $13
The good fat: Tonkotsu is a Japanese pork marrow broth that is usually served with ramen. You basically come here for the broth and this classic one is simply succulent. The broth is light with strong pork flavour which is what makes this dish so superb – you can really tell that they’ve brewed the broth for hours with rich, pork bones, resulting in a very flavoursome soup that isn’t msg-fied or too salty. The black fungus is a classic asian garnish, adding a elastic-y texture. The cha-shu in both dishes was thinly sliced and cooked perfectly tender, easily falling into strips and adding the extra pork flavour that complements the tonkotsu nicely.
The bad fat: Visually not as nice as the shio tonkotsu as for some reason our bowl was very bubbly, especially towards the edges but it didn’t detract from the overall taste.
Shio Tonkotsu w. tonkotsu broth, thin noodles, pork cha-shu, bamboo shoots and spring onions – $13
The good fat: Shio tonkotsu has an overall more light and mellow taste than the signature tonkotsu. The colour is also more subdued, with the broth blending into the cha-shu. The pork marrow flavour isn’t as strong, and there are more earthy undertones coming from the sizely portion of bamboo shoots. I heaped on a lot of sesame seeds (grinder is on each table) to add that extra nutty, asian taste to my ramen. In fact, the presence of ramen sauce (very savoury), chilli, soy sauce and sesame seeds on each table means everyone can personalise the ramen to tantalise their tastebuds. The ramen itself has a lovely, sprightly texture.
The bad fat: It would be nice to have a bit more cha-shu (yes I’m a carnivore ^_^) and the ramen to soup ratio is perfect for my liking, but for soup drinkers (one of us). With a reasonable price of $13, the serving size also provides for a very hearty meal – however the elements the ramen comes with are quite basic, so adding extras like egg can quickly increase the bill.
SHOULD YOU GET FAT HERE?
YES! I can’t wait to come again in Winter to warm up from the freezing Melbourne winters (and also fill in my loyalty card for that free gyoza hehehe)