Akanoren (赤のれん) ramen, Fukuoka/Hakata
Two days in Fukuoka is hardly enough to sample its specialties. Hakata style tonkotsu ramen may be its most famous export, and probably gets as many people on some ramen-oriented pilgrimage. Mine was to visit the original Akanoren, since I had what might be my best ramen experience at their branch in Tokyo (see post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/263660). Then, when I got the chance, I could visit the other famous shops like Ippudo, or Ichiran, I thought (didn’t get around to them, unfortunately).
This website claims that Akanoren is where tonkotsu ramen was invented: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/margarine/sono/restaurants.htm
I have no reason to dispute it, but this surprises me somewhat, since Akanoren seems to fly below the radar against the other big names. Either way, I was happy to get my chance at eating at original Akanoren.
If you’ve spent enough time in Japan, you’ve probably passed enough ramen joints and noticed some kind of funky smell (of the stinky feet variety)—the funk that comes from boiling lots of pork bone. When you smell it from a distance, it does smell like cooked pork, but when it hits you in the face, it’s a powerful jolt to the olfactory senses. From what I understand, there are ways to suppress this funk by adding certain ingredients to the boiling white stock, or by straining the stock numerous times, and it does seem that most tonkotsu ramen shops try very hard to suppress the funk. Not quite so at the original Akanoren. It seems that they’re quite proud of the funk, as it’s probably as close to the original recipe as it gets.
When I first took a whiff, it was a bit of a surprise, and there is a residual funkiness in the soup as well, but I take it that that was what gave the soup personality. After the initial harsh stimulation to the senses, it turned out to be a good bowl of ramen. The noodles are thin and served “katamen” (hard), and the soup is as kotteri (heavy) as I remember in the shop in Tokyo. However, this one wasn’t pale white, like the one in Tokyo. Maybe use a shoyu base.
While I did enjoy it, I’m still trying to assess it against other tonkotsu ramen I’ve had, and what my preferences are where ramen is concerned. It’s evident that I need to further educate my palate.
Here's a website with some photos and information: http://www.fukuokashi-town.com/do/001...