TRIED! Hataka Ikkousha (Ramen) @Muara Karang Raya No. 85. \o/
Reached there at a quarter to twelve. It was way too early for lunch for me – moreover after having breakfast at 9:30 – yet we dared not to go during lunch hour for fear of crazed patrons. I’ve read rave reviews that piqued my curiosity to the highest level possible; however, it’s also shared that the place was damn packed throughout the operating hours – people’re queueing even before the place was open until closing time. Some experienced so as they went on weekends, but we weren’t willing to take risk. There we were, at 11:45, the place was half-full we needed to share the small 4-turned-8-seater table with other patrons.
The space looks two-fold bigger thanks to the mirror covering the entire upper left area of the ruko (shophouse). The place itself isn’t small for an eatery, but the crowd of staff makes it seem more packed. I didn’t really take note of the number of staff working there or the number of seats available, but i believe the former outnumbers the latter. The open kitchen was lively and tended by approx. 11 people (according to my dad’s counting) who occasionally chanted something to gear the working spirit up.
Guess what? The place is packed with both staff and patrons, noisy with the chanting, and rather hot even with the aircon on. Many staff were going back and forth to fill up half-empty glasses of ocha. What’s interesting to watch is the moment a table is vacated, when six to seven staff (with “Enak tau!!!” words printed on the back of their black t-shirts :D) would flock the table to clear the dishes up before the supervisor (highly likely Japanese – its back is emblazoned with a mighty dragon figure) would disinfect the surface area and wipe it squeaky clean.
I believe i’ve written it before, that it is actually damaging to have your expectation raised so high as reality would usually fall short. Thus upon seeing a bowl of my ordered ramen was served, i tried to remain calm before digging in my first slurp. The noodle is thin – i’d prefer a thicker one but i won’t complain about it – while the (pork-based) broth is thick, rich, and decidedly yummy. Nevertheless, it is quite oily for my taste that i got pretty queasy after several tablespoons – it only got worse when it’s cooling off. It was a waste not to empty the soup…
Thus, piece of advice: stop talking and savor your bowl of ramen fast. Oh yeah, the chicken-based soup doesn’t stand a chance against the pork ones; the former is rather bland compared to the latter. Yeah, i’m a pork-eater, so i’ll unquestionably go for it over anything else =p
Verdict: Hakata Ikkousha ramen is worth the hype. It is justifiable to call it the best ramen in town – and i’ve yet to try Marutama. Why ramen while the shop offers a quite extensive menu ranging from donburi to grilled meat? Because (nearly) everyone’s ordering ramen, with a few going for tsukemen. However, all things considered, it remains questionable as to whether i’ll visit the stall anytime soon. If so, i’ve planned to try out its champonmen.
Yes, I still like the Hokkaido Ramen best.
Update as of Q1 2013: the Muara Karang outlet has closed down. I heard it moved to PIK area.