Ramen is nothing new in Melbourne, so why the queues at Hakata Gensuke? The buzz began with the name: Hakata (aka Fukuoka) is home to tonkotsu (slow-cooked pork-bone broth), and any eatery with connections to that southern Japanese town is worth checking out. What's more, restaurateur and master chef Kousuke Yoshimura flew over to fine-tune the Melbourne outlet before opening day, making sure noodles made in the climate-controlled room were chewy enough, and the broth had the right creamy, hammy flavour.
Two months on and the queues haven't shrunk. Order forms quicken the process: choose from tonkotsu, black sesame tonkotsu or fiery "god fire"; four textures of noodle; and toppings such as black fungus and bamboo shoots. Ramen shouldn't be a blur of flavour - each component should hold its own, as is the case here. Once inside the simply furnished timber and red room, and after you've recovered from the greeting shrieked by everyone down to the dish pig, you'll discover the wait was worth it.
Open daily from noon-3pm, 5-10pm.
Hakata Gensuke, 168 Russell Street, Melbourne, 03 9663 6342.