I bet if I took a bath and soaked my body in the tub for 12 hours, I’d end up with some pretty astonishing tonkotsu soup. Sorry about the visual, but after consuming four bowls in less than ten hours you probably know what I’m talking about. I set out to try 2 bowls max today, then I don’t know what happened. There’s something addictive about the ramen here. It’s hypnotizing. I’m still craving it as I write this. I’m doomed, yet totally satisfied. Between the collagen and the fat, I think I’m on pace to be the prettiest heavy person alive.
When I first arrived at Hakata Station and grabbed a copy of the local ramen map, a taxi driver saw me fumbling through it and asked “Oi nani sagashitenno (What are you looking for)?” When I told him I was looking for the best ramen-ya in the area he then told me to just ride with him for the day and he’d take me to all of them. Thanks but no thanks. Sounds like fun but that would probably cost me a fortune. He then said “Ichiban ume~ no wa Ganso Nagahama da yo. Ajinomoto tappuri irete suge~ oishii.” Basically, that translates to ‘go to Ganso Nagahama cuz they use a lot of MSG and it’s damn good!’ So I went and…it was damn good! In Japan, ajinomoto is your friend. If anything, it makes you feel happier.
I had dreamt about coming to Canal City’s Raumen Stadium before. So I guess you can call this a dream come true. But then again, I always dream about ramen and this whole trip has been one big dream come true. Anyway, I felt like something different but still considered Hakata. So I ordered the tsukemen from Hakata Gensuke. It definitely didn’t feel like Hakata, but I guess I can now say that I’ve tried Hakata-style tsukemen at the Raumen Stadium 2. Sweet!
After checking into my hotel and taking a short break while watching the rain soak the street below my window, I finally decided to go get out and get wet myself. So it was back to Canal City, but this time I headed for the basement. I had heard about Ichiran and its private stalls before but never experienced it first hand. The ramen was great and the experience was one-of-a-kind. Although I did miss being able to observe the hustle-and-bustle of a ramen-ya.
I then set out to find the yatai Ichiryu in honor of a true rameniac, but it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. I spent about an hour walking around Nakasu, asking just about every conbini and they all pointed me to the same direction. But I swear, it wasn’t there. So after my 5th time walking by, I finally just settled with Hakata-Nagahama Ramen Yamachan. It probably wasn’t the greatest ramen in the area (though it was the most crowded), but there’s something about just being there that makes it special. The whole mood of sitting at a yatai at night next to a river in Hakata is unfathomable, yet very explicable. It’s gonna be hard to fight this addiction.