My first meal in Kyushu was a taste of its famous pork-broth ramen at the famous Hakata ramen chain called Ippudo Tao.
Opened by Japan’s ramen king Shigemi Kawahara, the red and black modern concept of the diner is inspired by renowned Japanese taiko group TAO. The dynamic music of TAO resounded throughout the diner as their videos were being played on overhead plasma screens.
Part of the restaurant’s decor was made up of drumsticks if you noticed…
It’s also of an open kitchen concept where you could sit at the counter and slurp your ramen up quickly while watching them prepare the dishes. It was lunchtime and very crowded when I was there, but the turnover is very high as the bowls were served up very quickly and also slurped up just as efficiently.
Aligned with the restaurant’s strong black and red colours, the two signature dishes of Ippudo are its Tao Kuro and Tao Aka. Actually, there are only three types of ramen served.
Tao Kuro is the ‘black’ ramen with thick, chewy noodles soaked in tonkatsu (pork bone) soup blackened with soy sauce…
…while Tao Aka is the ‘red’ choice with thin noodles in tonkatsu soup that has been brewed for 18 hours and mixed with fish stock and their in-house spicy miso sauce.
The third and only other option on the menu is the Ippudo Shiro which has ultra-thin ramen noodles and goes back to the basics of Hakata ramen.
We also ordered a serving of their Hakata bite-sized dumplings which fits into your mouth nicely, yum!
For some reason, the additional toppings on the table for the ramen had a Korean touch to it:
With countless stores in Japan, Ippudo Tao is also present in New York and Singapore – at Mandarin Gallery or United Square, just in case you want to try it for yourself.
That’s me with the restaurant manager and here’s me with the tour guide and JTB representative outside the shop…
I might just head over to either of the Singapore outlets to see if it tastes just as good as this one in Kyushu! I’m sure it’ll be just as tasty.. anyone craving for some pork broth Kyushu ramen?
Next on my Kyushu media fam trip: Too much chicken at Hakata Hanamidori