You might have seen the ominously long queues and the cramped sitting spaces and thought, ‘nah, forget it’. When really what you’re actually doing is saying ‘nah, forget it’ to, without a doubt, the best ramen dining experience in Melbourne.
The thought of those minor inconveniences vanish when you savour a spoonful of their creamy and flavourful tonkotsu or pork bone broth. In fact, tonkotsu is all they offer which is probably why it is done so magnificently. There are four variations of the broth: shio (light flavour tonkotsu), black (black sesame and garlic), signature (original broth) and the notorious god fire (Beware). Exclusive to the Hawthorn store, is the aka flavour (spicy cod flavour broth) and only in the city can you find the (we think soon to be trending) dipping ramen called tsukemen.
You are able to choose the texture of your ramen from soft to very hard and whether to add spring onions, free of charge. Further customisation is also offered, though with charges, for extra garnishes such as the black fungus, soft boiled egg and chashu (roasted pork). Consequently, the price of your bowl of ramen can easily skyrocket.
Save your money and get either their highly satisfying pork gyoza or chicken karaage (fried chicken). If you must, order extra noodles for a mere $2 if you still have broth left – something you definitely do not want to waste. Boiled for hours, it has been made with love and care. In fact, that is why it is considered a form of respect in Japanese culture to gulp down the entire bowl of broth whilst also making loud slurping noises as you eat.
All in all, Hakata Gensuke is a must try if you are aching for sumptuous ramen. It is close to what you can get in Japan and certainly feels so with the customary vocal enthusiasm of their all-Japanese staff.
In a sentence: Only the best ramen in Melbourne.
Words and Photos by Derrick Koo.