For four decades since 1970, the Yamagoya Ramen has been specializing in Chikuho noodles – the signature thin, straight noodles blended with their rich creamy Tonkotsu broth, that’s result of boiling pork bones and kombu for many hours. This long tradition is now being shared internationally as Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen.
After months of not being able to secure a seat in Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen’s Shangrila East Wing branch, I finally had the chance to try out this blockbuster restaurant specializing in ramen. Will it be better than Nomama Artisanal Ramen? Do they have a wide variety of dishes to choose from to compliment there special Tonkotsu Ramen? Those were the thoughts swimming in my head as I patiently waited in line, with a lucky #13.
Tonkotsu vs. Tonkatsu
By the way, this is actually the perfect opportunity for your to understand the difference between Tonkatsu and Tonkotsu. Tonkatsu is pork cutlet usually breaded to perfection, while Tonkotsu is something taken out of pork bones ~ you can just imagine roasting pork bones as the second layer after the first layer with Kombu dashi. That’s how they do it in most authentic ramen places. By authentic I don’t mean Ramen X.
Now going back to this review. The interiors of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen are decorated with bamboo shoot style pillars, painted with a Japanese haiku caligraphy, I believe. Their fire red metal chairs are quite too heavy to my liking, and they have provisioned a “Ramen Bar” area for singles who want to eat on the go without having to wait for a long line. But despite that fact I still waited for a table, while noticing several people still hanging around even though they were not waiting for anything anymore. I shake my head, immediately thinking of Japan’s eating etiquette, and how quick they enjoy their ramen for a fraction of their time. It seems that we need to learn more about their time-conscious culture.
An hour later, we were already able to secure a table. I can tell the restaurant is noisy, with kitchen staff shouting “Irrashaimase” and several Japanese phrases simultaneously. It’s hard to keep up a conversation with your family. I guess they do this to keep the ambience at bay.
I particularly liked this corner of their restaurant. I had my photo turned into noir photography for a change. It reminds me back in the day where I would read Japanese Manga and black and white photos would make it less violent due to the bloodshed in the graphics.
We were given cold tea, which comes as a surprise to me. I realized then that the ramen must be hot for our tongues. I recalled my experience with Butao Ramen where we were served with lemon water.
I like their plates and bowls, with a fat buddha-like character. It looks very proud of its heritage in a comical manner.
Now on to the food. We started with a tofu salad. Some large serving this is! I was surprised at the size of this giant bowl and I enjoyed eating the chilled tofu. The sauce has a perfect balance to the vegetables, keeping it fresh and excellent for cleaning your palette.
Gyoza is one of their specialties. For the price of P180, this is very cheap for me. It’s alright, nothing out of the ordinary.
We also ordered Tonkatsu cutlet. Pardon me, the shape is very irregular, and it’s too hard to chew. I find my gums slightly strained from all the work chewing it.
Tonkatsu Cutlet, 4 pieces
One more hard thing to chew is their Karaage! I recalled my experience eating at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, where they served their Karaage with sweet sauce. Their chicken meat was very soft, juicy, and tender inside, and the skin is fried perfectly.
I also ordered their Original Yakimeshi rice. To me, this is less oily than Kimpura’s chahan, which is good in my opinion. It is also less salty which allowed me to eat more portions.
Finally, the star of the meal is the Ikkoryu Original Tonkatsu. I ordered this to be able to catch the real taste of the broth and ramen, without the black garlic condiments that comes with the other ramen varieties. There are four key components in their ramen: Chashu, Chikuho Noodles, Tonkatsu Broth, and the Special Soy Sauce.
Original Tonkotsu Ramen
This particular Ikkoryu Original Tonkotsu comes also with bamboo shoots, wooden ear, dried seaweed, topped with green onions.
My first impression to the broth was… Blah. As was instructed in their menu, I need to inhale the broth. I did not smell any roasted aspect to it, that many ramen broths are well known for. They help you catch the aroma and make your tastebuds crave for it! Tasting it ~ I can also hardly taste kombu that broths are usually simmered with first.
You can choose to have your noodles as soft, normal or hard. But the point is, I realized it doesn’t matter. The noodles were too thin to my liking, although I can understand that Chikuho noodles are naturally thin and long. Pardon me, it tastes like Chinese birthday noodles, except they weren’t fried. On the other hand, the chashu pork is good and succulent, but nothing that would make me crave on a daily basis. I think it’s tender but lacked in fat.
For a price of P330, it is quite expensive, considering Nomama’s Tantanmen costs only P270, but it’s “artisanal” – catered to each experience. I had to weigh both and I must say, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen must be a product of commercialization already ~ where the noodles and broth are mass produced to accommodate demand and finally lose its quality. I believe it might be a better ramen place in its first few weeks of opening.
We also ordered another ramen variety: the Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu Ramen.
Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu Ramen
Now this reminded me of my Red King Ramen experience at Butao Ramen. I feel like it’s a bit of a contender, minus my aversion for its thin Chikuho noodles.
I like this better than the Original Tonkotsu, not because I am a huge fan of spicy ramen, but because I believe the “soy-sauce” flavor was lost and I can certainly smell the roasted aroma that we all love to inhale with ramen.
There’s Chashu pork and bamboo shoots too. If you like, an add-on of Ajitama for P50 is a must for this ramen.
Overall, the experience wasn’t all degrading ~ I loved their Tofu Salad which is their bestseller, admittedly. I can eat this on a daily basis. Ironically, the other dishes were more outstanding than their ramen.
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Rating:
|Taste and Originality:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Customer Experience:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Value for Money:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Brick and Mortar:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Average:||(3.4 / 5)|