5 Shops in Tokyo for Authentic Hakata Ramen

by Ramen Hero - October 24, 2021

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In a previous blog post I talked extensively about how regonality plays a huge role in how ramen styles are shaped. Hokkaido is home to the Sapporo Miso Ramen which was popularized primarily through the shop Sumire, which adopted a sauteed miso technique that has since been emulated by countless Sapporo miso ramen shops. In the article, I described the spread of the Sapporo Miso ramen and its prevalence throughout Japan as well as the 5 noteworthy shops located in Tokyo to try the style without having to make your way up north and have it at the source. 

 

Following the theme of regional ramen varieties, this week I will describe another hugely popular style which traces its roots to Fukuoka, Hakata specifically, for the Tonkotsu Hakata Ramen. You’ve probably had a bowl of Hakata Ramen before with franchise shops like Ichiran and Ippudo serving a variety of the style at their shop. Story goes that a shop in Fukuoka was steeping their pork bone broth and the master fell asleep at the helm. When he awoke, the bones had over-steeped and the resulting soup was rich and creamy. Rather than scrap the broth, the shop served the soup and became an instant hit. Word spread and other shops began emulating the creamy soup and the Hakata ramen was born. Again, while I definitely recommend making a visit to the source in Fukuoka, if your schedule doesn’t allow for a visit down south, here are five shops to try in Tokyo to get authentic Hakata style ramen and scratch that tonkotsu itch. 

 

Hakata Nagahama Ramen Tanaka Shoten (博多長浜ラーメン 田中商店)

 

 

First up is probably the most famous of the bunch in Tokyo and that’s Tanaka Shoten. Opened in 2000, Tanaka Shoten is a perennial Tabelog Top 100 ramen shop and is a very well regarded Hakata ramen shop in Tokyo. Using a Yobimodoshi method where three to four pots steep their tonkotsu pork bone soup at once, the Hakata ramen here is as creamy and as authentic as you can get in Tokyo. 

 

The broth includes pork femur, head, feet, and backbone for a full frontal pork flavor attack. A small 100g portion of noodles, sourced from Torio Seimen, is cooked to your preferred doneness (I recommend barikata, or al dente). Extra servings of the noodles, known as Kaedama, can be ordered from the table at an additional cost of 130 yen, which many people do as tradition with this style. Topping selection is endless with soft boiled egg, dried seaweed, wood ear mushrooms, and negi (among a plethora of others) provided for an extra 120 yen. For truly the best in Tokyo, Tanaka Shoten is your best bet.

 

Hakata Nagahama Ramen Ikki (博多長浜らーめん いっき)

 

 

Ramen Ikki is next up and is another shop serving traditional Hakata style ramen while maintaining a menu much like one you’d see if you went and had it in Fukuoka. The simple menu consists of their popular Hakata ramen with negi green onions, extra chashu, or both and each item can be ordered for under 1000 yen. Additional toppings are all 100 yen as well so if you’re on a budget and looking for authentic Hakata ramen, Ikki is the place to hit. Interesting thing to note, both Ikki and the aforementioned Tanaka Shoten originate from a shop called Moriya, having trained there prior to opening their respective shops. The shop Moriya traces its roots back to a shop called Ramen Kintaro and Nandenkanden, both legendary shops which put Hakata Tonkotsu ramen on the map in the Kanto area. Many shops have spawned from these shops, so if you find that some of these shops resemble each other, you know why!

 

The dark hue lets you know right away just how creamy and emulsified the soup is. Paired with al dente cooked, thin noodles, the ramen is exactly what you’d expect if you had it at the source. Wood ear mushrooms and extra negi are the most popular topping choices among regulars and be sure to order a side of rice to help soak up the remaining soup so you don’t leave any behind. As for side menus, Ikki serves Mentaiko, both as is or over rice. Mentaiko is marinated, spicy cod roe which is a local favorite in Fukuoka and is sometimes seen on menus in Hakata ramen restaurants in the area. For a taste of Fukuoka’s finest culinary delicacies, be sure to mark Ikki on your itinerary calendar.

 

Hakata Nagahama Ramen Botan (博多長浜らーめん ぼたん)

 

 

Another old school Hakata Nagahama Ramen legend is Botan located near Otsuka station on the JR Yamanote line. Open since the early 2000s, Botan has continuously served up top notch Hakata ramen for the better part of the last two decades, and rightfully so as the master trained at the aforementioned Tanaka Shoten before branching out on his own. In addition to their incredibly popular ramen, Botan also serves a varied alcohol menu and side dishes to accompany your beverage of choice making it a popular late night drinking spot for local Otsuka residents. Whether as a pregame dinner drinking spot, or late night finisher, Botan is the perfectly place to get your drinks on to go along with your authentic Hakata style ramen.

 

The soup is a tad lighter than the previous two shops as a result of a lighter shoyu used in the tare. Fear not however, the color does not indicate flavor as their soup is jam packed with pork-y goodness. Thin noodles pair perfectly with their thick soup and customers can order them in four levels of doneness; Harigane (hard), Barikata (al dente), Futsu (regular), and Yawa (soft). Typically the Barikata is the recommended choice, but the more advanced ramen eater should take a stab at the Harigane which is cooked for mere seconds before plating. 

 

Hakata Nagahama Ramen Kenta (博多長浜ラーメン 健太)

 

 

Hakata Nagahama Ramen Kenta is another long standing shop that has been around since the early 2000s. What makes Kenta so special is that the master ran his restaurant as an Izakaya diner of sorts before moving to Fukuoka and training at an authentic Hakata ramen shop. After rigorous training, the master moved back up to Tokyo and reopened as a Hakata ramen shop in the Koenji area. Simplicity is best here at Kenta as their menu consists of five items; ramen, double negi green onions, kaedama extra noodles, half size kaedama extra noodles, and Oi Turu.

 

So you might be wondering, what is Oi Turu? Oi Turu is a wonton wrapper that is quite unique if you’ve never had the chance to try it. Typically Hakata ramen is served along with thin, snappy noodles so the Oi Turu gives a unique, slippery texture to the dish. The soup is a bit lighter than the other shops on this list and isn’t quite as creamy and emulsified, but is delicious nonetheless. Again, don’t skip out on the Kaedama extra noodles which are there for you to supplement your meal and leave you full and satisfied. For unique Hakata ramen made by a chef with proper Hakata pedigree, Kenta is the place for you. 

 

Hakata Ramen Barikote (博多ラーメンばりこて)

 

 

Finally we have Hakata Ramen Barikote located a short walk from Nakano station on the JR Chuo line. Barikote is one of the oldest shops on this list having first opened their doors in 2000, right at the turn of the century. You can really feel the age of this shop as the floors and tables are quite sticky from years of residual fats and oils from the Hakata soup coating the shop interiors. While it might seem kind of gross at first, this is actually the sign of a great Hakata tonkotsu ramen. The soup takes hours to steep and the fats and oils which rise through the steam will inevitably travel throughout the shop. The fact that a shop has some of these oily remains in their shop indicates that they actually cook the soup in house and not just ship it in from a supplier.

The fresh cooked soup is simply irresistible and you’ll have a hard time restraining yourself from finishing the soup before ordering your Kaedama, extra noodles. Two things about Barikote makes it stand out against the rest. First is the raw egg topping. Other shops do offer this topping, but Barikote’s soup and noodles pair incredibly well with the raw egg which intensifies the creaminess of the bowl for a more impactful ramen. Next is their noodle cooking time which start with なま (nama), or raw. Not entirely raw, Barikote throws the noodles in for mere seconds before serving. The option is NOT for beginners, but definitely give it a try for a second or third order of Kaedama for a rather unique experience!