Member Restaurant Review – Nagahama Ramen Hakataya
by AJS Guest Blogger Alicia Nally
It’s 7:30pm on a Friday night in Sunnybank Plaza and, across the road from the hustle and bustle of Market Square, the shopping centre and its car park is quiet and empty.
That is, until you round a few shops and Nagahama Ramen Hakataya (for ease, I’ll just call it Hakataya from now on) and the long queue blocking the entrance to the empty restaurant next to it comes into view.
A harried staff member attempts to scout out empty seats, take orders and run steaming bowls of ramen to customers, while another is busy piling empty dishes into his arms as soon as patrons have left.
While I enjoy a good bowl of ramen and have eaten plenty of it, I can’t really say I’m a connoisseur.
I can say however, that the first time I tried tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen, near the end of a two-year stint in Tokyo, it became the ONLY ramen I ever wanted to eat again and I cried silently inside for all those potential tonkotsu ramen meals I’d missed out on.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across a noodle joint that specialised in tonkotsu ramen, right here in Brisbane.
Hakataya is so specialised, it only offers four types of tonkotsu-based ramen
Hakataya is so specialised, it only offers four types of tonkotsu-based ramen – Nagahama (regular tonkotsu ramen), char siu (Nagahama ramen with extra pork topping), karakamen (spicy ramen) and misokaramen (spicy miso ramen) – varying in price from $10 to $13.
It also offers gyoza ($7), pork soup flavoured rice ($6.50), steamed rice, rice balls ($2) and the option of adding extra noodles (“Just say kaedama”) for $1.80 or extra char siu for $3.00.
My dining partner and I were absolutely famished after a long day at work and I was a bit concerned about how fast the queue out the front was moving. However our order was taken and we grabbed a seat in a fairly reasonable time frame.
After ordering a char siu and a spicy miso bowl, we only had to wait about another 15 minutes until our noodles arrived accompanied by a side dish of spicy pickled greens called takana. Some gyoza arrived a few minutes after that.
It’s been quite a few years since I last had a bowl of tonkotsu ramen, but the trademark pale creaminess that sets this type of noodle soup apart from other ramen was there in abundance.
The delicate slices of pork sitting on top were flavoursome and the epitome of melt-in-your-mouth perfection and I was glad I’d ordered the bowl with extra meat.
The spicy miso ramen came out bright orange and garnished with spring onions and seaweed (mine didn’t have any seaweed) and was, well, spicy. Far too spicy for me, but my partner wolfed it down in no time.
My partner also mentioned that the noodles could be a bit chewier, and while I usually prefer this, I didn’t particularly mind that my serving was a little soft.
The gyoza was nothing outstanding, but still as tasty and juicy as expected.
I was a bit puzzled by the pickles on the side (I couldn’t for the life of me remember ever eating pickles with ramen before) and gave them a go, but for me, the spiciness really didn’t go well with the creamy pork soup. A quick Google search once I got home confirmed that these spicy pickles are traditionally served with Nagahama ramen, so Hakataya gets points for carrying over authenticity to the Australian masses, even if I didn’t fully appreciate it.
Hakataya is a tiny shop – I counted 3 longish benches for solo slurpers and 4 tables – and judging by the stream of customers that continued until we left, I’d get in early, or be prepared to wait patiently.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']“http://japanet.com.au/AJS_newsletter/images/ajsPROFILE.jpg”[/author_image] [author_info]Alicia Nally first started to love Japanese when her primary school teacher allowed everyone to throw beans around the classroom in an effort to teach 9-year-olds about Setsubun. She was hooked and continued to study the language and culture through high school and uni before taking off to teach English in Tokyo for two years. Since returning to Australia, Alicia keeps the passion alive by eating Japanese food and blogging about it.[/author_info] [/author]