I don’t believe I had ever seen the front of Hakata Gensuke without a line of hungry-eyed patrons eagerly awaiting their turn to slurp one of the best Tonkotsu broths in Melbourne. And so it was fate that I decided it had been long enough between bowls of steaming noodles and I ventured to Hakata Gensuke, completely prepared to line up for as long as it would take, only to find there was no line.
The ordering process is via a checkbox card, with 4 types of broths to select from and then any additional trimmings are charged around the $1 to $5 mark. The standard bowl comes with a single slice of delicate chashu, ramen noodles, black fungus and broth. I opted for “normal” taste and “normal” noodle hardness and an extra flavoured egg and a shared side of chicken karrage.
Soon after, two hot bowls of steaming ramen arrived with the pungent, wonderful pork-marrow smell wafting. The pork broth had incredible depth and rounded flavour, without being fatty at all. The noodles were perfectly chewy and I my only regret was not ordering a refill. The flavoured egg was the weakest point of the meal because it wasn’t soy flavoured at all. It was just an average, regular soft-boiled egg plonked onto the ramen.
Ginger, spicy tobanjan and a pot of garlic were on the table to allow us to enhance the flavour of the ramen. I am a big fan of garlic bombed ramen and added a healthy dose of garlic, ginger and tonbanjan ( a spicy broad bean paste) to my ramen. I revel in plentiful condiments.
The chicken karrage was pleasantly deep-fried, crisp, and contained flavourful dark meat.
Hakata Gensuke may have the best tonkotsu broth. The broth is reminiscent of the bowls I slurped throughout Tokyo and Kyoto. The noodles are also high quality and held their firmness throughout the slurp-fest, however, paying for each extra topping can become expensive. The milk-white pork bone broth is worth lining up for.