168 Russell St, Melbourne - ph: 9663 6342
Hakata Gensuke seems to be the current talk of the town amongst Melbourne foodies. Every blogger has been there. It's been reviewed a million times, always along the same lines: they don't take bookings - queues are long - it's worth the wait.
We got there just after 7pm on a Friday night before the queue got ridiculous. We put our names down and got told by the staff that it would be about a 30min wait for a table for 2. She was very forthright to tell us that you can only be on the waiting list if you are actually queuing outside the restaurant - no sneaking out for a quick drink, or adding a friend that is about to arrive. Ouch!
We were given the menus while we were still waiting outside to mark what we wanted and handle it to the waiter as we walked in. It's all about optimising time and table turnover and I did feel the whole process was a bit too rushed for the nice Friday night dinner I was looking for.
In sum, I was already not in the best of moods by the time we were ushered in to our tiny table in their tiny dining room - I guess true to the Japanese space constraint style.
We started with some fried chicken for entree. It was well cooked, but definitely needed the accompanying seasoning. The chicken pieces by themselves were pretty blend.
|Chicken karaage ($5)|
We ordered two different ramen bases to share - the traditional 'signature' ramen and the black sesame paste ramen.
|Signature tonktuzu ramen ($13)|
Hakata Gensuke goes on and on about being made in the traditional way simmering pork bone for hours and hours to create a thick, 'milky' broth.
To me, the broth was way too heavy, like eating lard. I liked the black sesame broth better - perhaps because the heavy bone marrow texture was somewhat diluted in the sesame paste.
|Black sesame ramen ($14)|
Hubby loved (and finished) both dishes.
I honestly prefer the clear, light broth ramen that you get at most other Japanese restaurants. Hakata Gensuke just really didn't take my fancy.