A simple bowl of noodles in broth may seem like a poor man’s feed; and indeed historically it is. But one should not underestimate the complexity of drawing textures and flavours from the simplest of ingredients.
Hakataya Ramen serves up classic Tonkatsu-style (pork bone broth) ramen across Queensland, with a new CBD outlet in Brisbane winning many fans. While it is easy for such franchises to loose track with more outlets and start breaching their means, Hakataya Ramen has maintained everything that makes it a mecca for ramen lovers. A tiny kitchen space with huge vats of simmering broth, a long bar facing the kitchen for hungry diners, and a simple menu with no more than 10 items and just five ramen types: traditional tonkatsu, with extra meat, spicy tonkatsu, miso flavoured, and the limited offer of a spicy seafood and tonkatsu broth; all reminicient of a ramen-ya in Japan.
The same way a pizza outlet would be judged on its Magarita, I decided to go for the basic tonkatsu ramen. Within a few minutes of ordering, followed by fast and meticulous preparation by the two chefs in the kitchen reminiscent of Adam West and Burt Ward from the 1960s Batman show (with much less camp), a bowl of steaming hot ramen was in front of me; a sizable portion of thin yellow noodles soaking in a pale broth dotted with tiny glistening globules of fat, layered with a few slices of char-siu, seaweed flakes, spring onions, and pickled vegetables. While the garnishes are always a nice touch, the sign of a good ramen, like any noodle broth dish, is satisfaction from just the foundations of noodle and broth.
The noodles, which are so often overcooked at many an Asian eatery, were perfect. The secret here is the slight springy and chewy texture of the noodle, not unlike an al dente spaghetti, but with an added bounce.
But make no mistake, the major selling point for Hakataya is its broth. A well-made broth, simmered for hours from bones, vegetables, and herbs/spices, should make the spoon hard to let go. The broth had a rich and slightly peppery taste but was light enough so that it did not leave a cloy feeling on the palate, making one constantly crave for another taste. If you’re the type who feels the meal is over after the noodles are gone, have no fear. As long as you have some broth in the bowl, you can order a Kaedema, an extra order of noodles, which is currently free at Hakataya.
Everyone probably has a favourite, go-to noodle broth dish. And it’s clear with the constant throng of clients at Hakataya, many have named ramen as theirs. But this is far from the pack of instant ramen at the back of the larder. Hakataya serves ramen that is deceivingly simple, satisfying, and everything that a noodle broth dish should be. Whether you are searching for something new from a foreign country, seeking a taste of familiarity, or just want some comfort after a long day, you might just want to drop by Hakataya Ramen.
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|Level A, Shop 16 Myer Centre,
91 Queen St., Brisbane