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Hakata Ramen - How To and Where To Eat In Fukuoka

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Hakata Ramen: Must-Try Japanese Tonkotsu Noodles

Hakata Ramen - Know Your Noodles

Ramen has become the representative food of Japan. Although it can be found outside of Japan, too, visitors are highly recommended to try this soul food when they are in Japan. In particular, local ramen varieties exist in areas all over Japan, making it worth to try these delicious dishes here.

One special variety to try in Japan is Hakata ramen, or tonkotsu ramen. The well-known restaurant Ichiran actually offers Hakata ramen, which is a regional specialty that now enjoys popularity overseas. However, trying it in-person and in Japan will provide the best experience.

This article will introduce what makes Hakata ramen unique, how to order it like a local, and recommended restaurants where Hakata ramen was first made.

About Hakata Ramen

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A typical bowl of Hakata ramen is garnished with minimal toppings: just green onions and char siu (boiled or roasted pork). While the price may vary by restaurant, generally you can have a bowl for between 500 to 700 yen.

"Hakata" is the name of a business district in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. While it was named after its place of origin, now Hakata ramen shops are all over Japan.

Hakata Ramen - How To and Where To Eat In Fukuoka

Many ramen shops also offer additional toppings such as extra char siu or a boiled egg for an additional 100 or 200 yen.

The Characteristics of Hakata Ramen

Hakata ramen differs from other ramen varieties in several ways.

1. A Cloudy Soup Broth, Tonkotsu - Made From Pork Bones

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Whether it is made by boiling down chicken bones or seafood, flavored with soy sauce, or some other method, the way ramen soup is prepared varies from shop to shop.

In the case of Hakata ramen, pork bones are carefully boiled until the soup reaches a cloudy white color. The characteristic result is a smooth taste that is almost like milk, while also allowing for the flavors of the pork and soy sauce to really come through.

2. The Noodles Are Thin And You Can Choose Their Firmness

The noodles in Hakata ramen are known for being thinner than regular noodles. This was devised for the benefit of busy market vendors, so they could quickly cook noodles to completion.

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Since the noodles are thin, it is easy to get them cooked to your preferred level of firmness, and you can choose when you order. The levels and their names vary from shop to shop, but many places divide them up as seen above: barikata (extra firm), kata (firm), futsu (medium), yawa (soft) and bariyawa (extra soft).

Whether you prefer chewy noodles or something a bit softer, you can choose the level that is right for you.

Choose the firmness when you order from the menu. Next time you get regular ramen, try asking for barikata.

3. The Unique "Kaedama" System

Since the noodles are thin and they absorb liquid quickly, they can become too soft.

Most Hakata ramen shops do not have the option to supersize noodle portions since they could become mushy during the extra time needed to eat them. Instead, they have a "kaedama" system, where you can receive extra noodles after your initial order.

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When you want more noodles, tell the staff "kaedama wo onegaishimasu" ("Please give me a second serving."). As shown here, the kaedama (second serving) will be given to you in a separate container.

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Put them in the soup! If you're willing to pay, you can order as many kaedama as you want.

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Most shops will have a bottle of ramen tare ("ramen seasoning") on the table. Adding a second serving of noodles will make the soup a little watery, so adjust the taste with a few squeezes from this bottle.

4. Original Toppings

Ramen restaurants usually have free toppings on the table. Hakata ramen shops also have their own unique toppings available.

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This is karashi takana. It consists of pickled leaf mustard greens, with red peppers added for some kick, diced up and fried in oil. The oil's depth and the heat of the peppers give the soup a more stimulating taste.

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This is beni shoga, pickled ginger root, and it packs a characteristic acidity and mouth-numbing spiciness. Beni shōga adds some zing to the mild-tasting soup of Hakata ramen.

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Try to find your favorite topping!

Some shops have garlic and bean sprouts available as free toppings, as well.

4 Recommended Restaurants with Delicious Hakata Ramen

Below are four restaurants in Fukuoka, Tokyo, and other locations in Japan where you can enjoy a bowl of authentic, carefully-prepared Hakata ramen. Make sure to experience this must-try dish for yourself.

1. Hakata Ikkousha

Hakata Ramen - Tonkotsu Soup And Noodles From Fukuoka

Picture from Top 8 Must-Try Ramen In Fukuoka, Kyushu - Recommended By An Expert
Hakata Ikkousha is a well-reputed ramen restaurant chain with multiple restaurants in Japan, like Fukuoka, Tokyo, and Hokkaido, and international locations as well. Try the tonkotsu ramen, which is packed with flavor and delicious ingredients.

If you want to try a classic bowl that will give you the authentic Hakata tonkotsu ramen experience, look no further than Hakata Ikkousha.

Ikkousha Fukuoka

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2. Nagahama Number One

Hakata Ramen - Tonkotsu Soup And Noodles From Fukuoka

Picture from Top 8 Must-Try Ramen In Fukuoka, Kyushu - Recommended By An Expert
Nagahama Number One is a ramen shop with a long history in Hakata, Fukuoka. This shop has branches in the greater Fukuoka Prefecture area and also Tokyo.

What sets this restaurant apart is its unique tonkotsu broth, which is creamy with a thick consistency. However, the soup does not get too heavy and it is easy to eat. The restaurant is also known for having reasonable prices--the most you will spend here is about 1,000 yen, even with extra toppings.

Nagahama Number One Gion Store

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3. KENZO cafe

Hakata Ramen - Tonkotsu Soup And Noodles From Fukuoka

Picture from Top 8 Must-Try Ramen In Fukuoka, Kyushu - Recommended By An Expert
KENZO cafe is a food stall-turned-restaurant that still retains its friendly, casual atmosphere, located in the middle of Fukuoka City. You will feel welcome and at ease with the classic Japanese interior.

The restaurant offers delicious bowls of standard tonkotsu ramen at very affordable prices. It also is known for its grilled ramen and unique menu items.

博多屋台 KENZO cafe

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4. Tanaka Shoten

Hakata Ramen - Tonkotsu Soup And Noodles From Fukuoka

Picture from 30 Great Tokyo Ramen Shops Selected By A Ramen Expert

Tanaka Shoten is a ramen shop in Adachi Ward in Tokyo. There is just one choice on the menu--tonkotsu ramen known for its very rich taste in comparison to what you can have at other restaurants. It is a unique take on Hakata ramen that is very popular.

The noodles are also very satisfying and thin, as they are ordered from Fukuoka.

Hakata Nagahama Rāmen Tanaka Shōten

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Savor Hakata Ramen in Japan

Hakata ramen is a classic ramen variety that is a must-try in Japan. The quirks like choosing your own firmness level and the kaedama system might be a bit difficult to understand at first, but this is part of what makes Hakata ramen so delicious and unique.

Be sure to have Hakata ramen for a savory and delicious meal.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.