The One With Hakata Ippudo Ramen – Japanese Spirit Overload

Hong Kong people do tend to overdo things sometimes.

You know how they always greet you when you enter a pharmacy store (oh yes, hi), ask you to feel free to look around (no, I will only sneakily do so), and do you want to try this lip balm for $20 more (why, my chaffed lips thank you). The relentless, automated chatters annoy me to no end, and it was the same when I visited Hakata Ippudo Ramen recently.

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

But IPPUDO took it to another level. The staff, already decked out in full force Japanese (ramen operator) gear, were shouting to each other in nonsensical Japanese throughout dinner. One new customer walk in and then the whole chorus begin, from one end of the restaurant to the other, right into the kitchen.

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

They may have the best intention in mind, to recreate that Japanese atmosphere. But let’s face it, my darlings, you are in Hong Kong. Most of your customers like yours truly know nothing about the carefully selected phrases you screamed to air just now. A bunch of baboons screaming at the zoo would not have been in out of place in yours.

Okay, so I was really annoyed with the shouting. But the food?

I am no ramen enthusiast, unlike many of my fellow foodies who dominated my Twitter streams with their #ramendork chatters a few months ago. I was a little under the weather, and it was suggested ramen might just do the trick.

Miso Tonkotsu (HK$58)

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

Definitely a safe choice. The miso soup itself was sweet and tangy, and the lean slices of pork were tender to the bite. But I was told the star ingredients of a bowl of good ramen are the noodles and its soup. The noodle was thin, springy and very different from other types of Japanese noodles I tried before. It looks like the kind of egg noodle you get with wonton soup, but this thin ramen exudes a strong taste of wheat with every bite. Hakata ramen is ultra thin, making it less likely to be too soggy in a big bowl of ramen.

Shoyu Tonkotsu (HK$58)

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

This was the original Tonkotsu broth, which was lightly salted with a natural sweet soy flavour. Personally I found the concontion, with its similar ingredient of Hakata ramen, pork slices, some soybean sprouts, bamboo shoots and spring onions, it was a tad too oily for me to justify an additional helping of the tasty noodle. Perhaps it was my sore throat talking, so that thick, rich soup base didn’t really offer me much comfort that night.

Deep Fried Squid Tentacles with Seaweed Flavour (HK$30)

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

Probably the star of the night, and very bad news for my throat. The squid tentacles were fresh and sucullent, but what made me sang praises for it was the banter; lightly infused with my favorite seaweed, a layer of batter is almost not there, yet only slightly oily. It was perfect, better than the squid I had in Lamma, only that I hope the portion was a little larger.

IPPUDO Original BBQ Pork Bun (HK$28)

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

Now this came as a surprise. I vaguely remember how I overheard these BBQ pork buns over #ramendork Twitter chatter, and when I saw it on the menu, I immediately asked for a portion. The pork was slightly sweet but juicy, and the fluor wrapping was firm yet tasted fresh. The combination was tangy, fresh and a definite non-char siew bao experience. Of this, I can understand what was the fuss all about.

The verdict? I would go again if I am dining alone and doesn’t need to hear my own train of thoughts. Word of advice though: Go early if you do not want to join the dinner queue which started to form at about seven when I visited the Causeway Bay branch.

Hakata Ippudo Ramen
2/F, 8 Russell Street, Causeway Bay
2892 2387

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