Fukuoka and ramen are inseparable. The creamy pork-broth tonkotsu ramen is one of the main gastronomic draws for tourists visiting the city, and no trip to Fukuoka is ever complete without indulging at least once in this mouth-watering regional speciality. Long lines are common outside some of the most famous ramen shops in the city, like the ever-popular Shin Shin chain. But if you explore a little farther, you can find a restaurant that has quietly become a mecca for ramen-lovers.
Hakata Genki Ippai serves its iconic creamy ramen to customers from a humble shop on the side of a nondescript building. With no sign or advertising board, you can only tell the shop is open when a blue bucket is hanging outside.
This is a shop for purists in search for the perfect ramen. If you haven’t already, watch Juzo Itami’s film Tampopo to truly understand how seriously people can take their ramen, and how delicious it can be. The shop has a list of rules on the wall for newcomers. These include: taste the soup first before the noodles; savour the noodles before adding takana (pickled Japanese mustard) greens; strictly no photography; no looking at smartphones while eating; and no asking the master about the ramen or the soup. Hakata Genki Ippai is a sanctuary for serious ramen-lovers. Find it and be converted.