Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hakata Tenjin, Ochanomizu (博多天神)

Good lord and butter, this was the first shop that I've needed an Ochanomizu tag for?! Ah, I see, it's because I wasn't as good about location tagging when I was but a pup, and when I visited the Go! Go! Curry outlet right next door to this ramen chain in Ochanu, I just said "Lots of places". Well, Hakata Tenjin is in lots of places too, but this is the one I went to. Boy do I love Hakata ramen.

It's something about the purity of the soup, so milky and white (from boiling the hell out of pork bones). And the thinness and firmness of the noodles. And that's it, because as you can see, your basic ramen doesn't come with a lot of adornment other than a sad little half-egg, sad little chashu slice, and sad, rapidly-wilting seaweed slice. And no attempt at beautification.

Personally I think the soup is good all by itself (Tenjin wasn't the best Hakata I've ever had, but it's still good and not as heavy as the browner pork-bone-based soups that are popular with tsukemen). However one of the attractions of Hakata ramen is the condiments (they have them at Ippudo, which is the Hakata chain you're most likely to have heard of, but their soup isn't as pure and basic because of the miso). I usually find that when I eat ramen, the salt and fat destroy my tongue, so by the end of the bowl I can barely taste the soup any more. Solution? Make the soup stronger while you eat. Loosely in left-right order, the condiments scattered across the picture are sesame seeds, toothpicks, red pickled ginger, ground white pepper, thick fish stock, spicy pickled mustard greens and grated fresh garlic. Please revisit the whiteness and beauty of the soup in the above picture...

Because by the time you get done with the toppings, it's going to look like hell. I went all out today, including dumping in two scoops of garlic after the noodles were gone in a defiant gesture that said "I don't have to kiss anyone today, and I don't care how many people on the train know it." And then it was time for...

the obligatory extra order of noodles. I say obligatory because...well, because it's free. That's just part of the system at most of these shops. Here, only the first one is free (that's enough). At some places, the first two are free. After that, I dunno. I DO know that no one really needs to eat that much noodle.

Hmmm, spent a lot of time talking about the style and not so much about the shop. I guess you can guess what that means about the flavor, but honestly, with all the condiments and all the noodles you can practically eat, for Y500, you shouldn't complain.

So don't, aiiiiight?

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