Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hakata Fu-ryu (博多風龍)

Well, I think I finally know enough about ramen to say: I prefer Hakata ramen. Of course, I've been saying for ages that Ippudo is my favorite, so I should have realized this, but I was lazy about the research. And I still am, but at least I noticed that all the places with those two funny characters in the name serve the same kinda noodles.

Update 11/2010: The review below sounds mediocre, but I've been to this place a bunch of times since, and think about it frequently. I guess that's worth a recommended tag.

Fu-ryu (Wind Dragon!) does a very tolerable line in these noodles. And I can't get started without pointing out that it's CHEAP. Y500 for basic ramen (that white pork soup, the negi, the fungus, the ginger) which includes refills of noodles - two of 'em. Eat your noodles, get another whole bowl. Eat those noodles, get another whole bowl. Don't pay extra. This isn't hard to understand, is it? More importantly, those noodles are good, solid Hakata produce - very thin, white and firm, with good flavor. They soften as they luxuriate in the soup (I'm trying to sound like the NYT article there), so they're best eaten fast. That explains why everyone next to me raced through two sets of noodles and was gone before I could get through one. I'm also perpetually worried about my suit, and that slows things down.     

I got the spicy soup, which I think was a good choice - based on pork bones, but upgraded with miso and chili paste. A decent soup, not overly aggressive in any way, and vastly improved by the addition of a spoonful of garlic. Night and day. Their web site advises people with dates or work to refrain from consuming their garlic, which is good advice but unfortunate from a flavor perspective.

It only comes with a bit of chopped pork, which is a blessing when you eat two servings of noodles. I supplemented with a half-boiled egg, which was in the 'very good' class - all gelled inside, with the barest rim of light-yellow, fully-cooked yolkal material. Not perfect, but a very good egg. Also a smallish serving of green onions and a healthy portion of bean sprouts (which were cooked a little, hence more acceptable to me). Side note on the cooking - the cooks are manic, constantly calling back and forth to each other not only to acknowledge new customers and orders, but seemingly just making little call-and-response noises for the hell of it. It's hilarious (and not just to me).

You won't miss this place if you walk by - the whole front of the building, 3 stories high, is yellow and screams out "Free refills of noodles!" in red letters with flashing lights. It looks like a tacky chain store. Still not sure how I feel about chains, but when there are only 9 stores and the food's as good and cheap as this, who cares?

I prefer to think of it as "Dragon's Wind", in the biblical sense.

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