Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A taste of Japan in Melbourne - our favorite ramen shop

When I grew up in Japan, I didn't really care much about Ramen (Japanese noodles in soup). My parents sometimes took me to a ramen shop but it wasn't really my favorite dish. In Tokyo where I grew up, shoyu (soy sauce) , miso, or shio (salt) were the basic ramen flavours and the ramen shops I went were nothing special.


Then almost ten years ago, I had "tonkotsu (pork bone)" flavor ramen...in Australia! Tonkotsu is a special soup made in the Kyushu area. Even though now I think back and realise that it wasn't really amazing"tonkotsu", when I tasted it I really liked the tangy and thick flavor of tonkotsu. Then I became a big fan of Ramen.

In Japan, we don’t often hear girls saying ‘my favorite food is ramen’. It sounds quite manly somehow and even if a girl does like it, that information might break her dream boyfriend’s heart;) The image of ramen shops in Japan is that they're always packed with middle aged salary men (white collar professionals) eating ramen by themselves quietly, often sweating away with steamed glasses. It sounds like serious business!

black sesame flavour

People who really love ramen often have a strict philosophy about how ramen should be served. Usually the noodles have to be "al dente". Serious ramen people don't want to chat with someone while eating a ramen, because if you take too long to eat, the noodles will be cooked in the soup and will lose their nice texture. They also want to eat it quickly, so they noisily slurp the ramen, sometimes with speckles of soup flying around. So you can see how it’s not for girls who want to chit chat with friends while nibbling something daintily. But for me, if the food is yummy, who cares about anything else?? When I worked in Tokyo, I often went to a ramen shop by myself after work, like a typical salary man. When I told my friends that, everyone thought I was brave for diving into the men’s world by myself.

Anyway, that’s how much I love Ramen. When I met Paul, he wasn’t a serious ramen lover. We sometimes went to Ramen shops in Melbourne together and he kinda liked it, but he wasn’t really serious about it, because the ramen here in Melbourne wasn’t good enough to make him serious.

Then we went to Ippudo – a very famous Japanese ramen shop in Sydney, and he became crazy! While I was working (Paul was on holiday), he went to Ippudo and other ramen shops for his lunch. He even started to judge which soup was good and started to have his own ramen philosophy.

We wanted Ippudo to come to Melbourne, but it didn’t happen. Instead, another famous ramen company, Ikkosha, opened a shop called “Gensuke” in Melbourne and we fell in love with their flavour! We went to the shop in the City and Hawthorn so many times since their opening...other ramen shops in Melbourne aren't really good enough for us any more.

I always order their signature “Tonkotsu” flavor with hard noodles. Paul has tried a few different flavours and always tastes a little bit of mine, but he decided to go for the same signature dish from next time, because he didn’t get much of my share!
If you want to try ramen in Melbourne, I really recommend Gensuke. You will definitely become a ramen lover, but be careful...it’s addictive!

Hakata Gensuke CBD
168 Russell Street, Melbourne
Mon-Fri Lunch: 11.30am-3pm  Dinner:5pm-9.30pm
Sat & Sun 12pm-9.30pm

Hakata Gensuke Hawthorn
4/860 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn
Mon-Fri 12pm-9.30pm
Sat&Sun Lunch:12pm-3pm Dinner:5pm-9.30pm

With love,

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