Hakata Gensuke, Melbourne
Today’s throwback review is of Hakata Gensuke, probably the most prolific ramen place in Melbourne and in my opinion, deservedly so. There’s a few stores around but pretty sure everyone references the Russell St city store, with the fear-inducing queues at any time of day. It can be pretty bad at times, but the two times I’ve made other people wait for it, they’ve said it’s been worth it in the end. Whilst you wait outside you are given the menu, so you can get you order early in as soon as you sit down.
Service is extremely fast and also extremely loud, with the kitchen opting for the very verbal style of Japanese places. It’s great fun. The menu itself is largely ramen with a few side options but you do get a fair chunk of customisation for your ramen dish which is nice.
I went for the black tonkotsu with delightful aromas of garlic and black sesame, its definitely my favourite broth of all ramen places. The cha shu isn’t the most volumetrically appeasing but is good, along with the other toppers (black fungus, spring onion) you get. Noodles are fresh and tasty and cooked to your textural preferences too. You can top up yourself with the sesame seed grinder and some other mystery condiments. I ordered the karage chicken as a side and it’s probably wise to do so to get your fill of meat.
Pro tip: Hakata Gensuke remans one of my key Melbourne recommendations despite the wait, you just need to be a bit lucky and a bit organised. Don’t wear white.