Hakata Gensuke : 168 Russell St, Melbourne CBD

September 1, 2015 at 8:26 pm (Japanese, Melbourne CBD) (, , , , , )

Japanese expats and Melbourne ramen-philes have been going wild for Hakata Gensuke, a specialty tonkotsu ramen shop that is now over a year old and still sporting queues as if it was brand-new to the scene. The thick, textural, pork bone soup is a Kyushu specialty and having had ramen champion, Kousuke Yoshimura, himself overseeing the restaurant start-up, you can expect an authentic Fukuoka-style tonkotsu ramen.

Hakata Gensuke - Frontage

Hakata Gensuke - Kitchen

A check-the-box order form offers a fully customisable ramen experience from three soup options. Classic tonkotsu is a creamy, collagen-rich hit of salty, porky goodness, with the addition of a garlic and black sesame paste delivering a striking, inky soup with a hint of that distinctive kurogoma bitterness (a must-try). “Gods Fire” is the go-to for spice lovers but if you’re thinking of going all out with the four-chili version, be warned; this chili oil laden number will have the most hardened of chili-eaters sweating, with the remnant lip-tingling sensation lasting for hours afterwards.

Hakata Gensuke - Black Sesame Tonkotsu

Hakata Gensuke - Gods Fire 4

Thin, house-made noodles can be served with a minimum of cooking, leaving them satisfyingly chewy, or cooked to varying degrees of softness. For toppings, meltingly soft chashu pork slices and soy egg are a given, with an assortment of veg (bamboo shoots, wood-ear fungus, bean shoots, sweet corn) for texture. You might want to skip the extra serve of noodles to save room for juicy, golden fried karaage on the side.

While the lines may be long, turnover is quick (you can tell from the frequency of shouts of “irrasshaimase!”), with efficiency worthy of a Japanese noodle bar, most patrons being in and out within half an hour.  It’s pretty close to the real thing, down to the little sesame grinders for that final touch before you dig in.  Any closer and it’d be standing room only with ticket machine orders.

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