If you’ve walked down Russell Street recently you may have been wondering why one particularly restaurant always has queues outside of it. Well ramen hunters, your search may be over now. At Hakata Gensuke you’ll find possibly Melbourne’s best ramen.
Or at least it will be ramen that’s made exactly according to your opinion of what elements constitute the best ramen.
Soft noodles? Hard noodles? Light broth? Heavy broth? Spring onion or no? The tickbox menu at Hakata Gensuke is like a ramen choose-your-own adventure, with no dead ends for anyone.
I really dislike lining up for food usually but I admit that I queued for 30 minutes to snag a coveted stool at Hakata Gensuke on a Saturday night. I figure if you see (Asian) people lining up for an (Asian) restaurant, then it’s a pretty good rule of thumb that it’s worthwhile joining that line.
Luckily that 30 minutes meant that I knew exactly what I wanted when it came time to order. One bowl of hard noodles in a normal strength black tonkotsu broth garnished with spring onion ($14). Before we could figure out where to collect water jugs and glasses our bowls of steaming noodles arrived.
Oh my god.
The aromatic, almost milky pork bone broth swirled with a homemade black sesame and roasted garlic paste. The thin springy noodles with just the right amount of starchiness and bite to them. The melting slice of pork cha su.
M went for the normal noodles with a light version of the signature tonkotsu ($14). We couldn’t discern any difference between the ‘normal’ and ‘hard’ noodles to be honest but her broth was definitely subtle in flavour.
This gave us an opportunity to experiment with the pots of condiments provided at each table – a spicy pickled vegetables, red ginger, minced garlic, ramen sauce, gyoza sauce, freshly ground sesame, pepper roulette.
I can’t report on how every version of ramen available at Hakata Gensuke rates. But MY choice? Spot on. Maybe I should take it as a challenge to work my way through the variations!