As I had made up my mind to try and eat from as many ramen restaurants in Kyoto Station's Ramen Koji or Ramen Alley, I wondered where my next ramen bowl would come from.
This striking poster for Hakata Ikkousha caught my eye. Was that what it seemed to be? A huge gigantic slice of chashu spread out on top of a ramen bowl? The mother of all chashu!
I knew immediately that I would have to try this place.
If you go during regular dining hours, there's sure to be a queue at any ramen place in Ramen Koji. Hakata Ikkousha is no exception. It took about twenty minutes before we got seated.
The queues though are efficiently managed and there are signs in English on how to order your food before you stand in line.
While standing in line, I can't help but peer in and silently will these diners to hurry up and slurp their ramen as fast as they can.
At last! Our ramen bowls are placed before us just a few minutes after we are seated. This is Hakata Ikkousha's number one best selling bowl -- Ajitama with scallions ramen. What I had originally thought was a gigantic chashu slice turns out to be four thin chashu slices, artfully arranged to look like one big piece.
Their second best selling bowl is topped with just green onions and an ajitama egg. Like the Kitakata ramen, the chashu covers the entire bowl, you can't even see the noodles that are hidden underneath.
Unlike Kitakata ramen, which has a light, almost clear pork broth, Hakata style ramen uses tonkotsu broth -- a dense and heavy broth that comes from boiling pork bones for days on end -- marrow, sinews, collagen all melt after together. The result is a milky, creamy and rich soup base.
The tonkotsu broth at Hakata Ikkousha has a strong garlic taste -- this would be my only quarrel with this ramen as I am not a big garlic fan -- it's my aswang or vampire tendencies coming to the fore.
There are even extra garlic cloves on the table just in case you want to make your ramen even more garlicky. Count Dracula would hate this place.
In addition to the ramen, we order a side dish of karaage and fried rice. Like the chashu slices, the karaage is super sized and comes with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. It's very tasty but I can only manage one piece.
No time for lingering and discussing the fine points of Hakata Ikkousha ramen. More people are queued for food outside so it's slurp, eat and run! The Ramen Face Off will be continued …
Note : Thanks to my son Gani for photos 3 and 6.