Friday, September 10, 2010

Hakataya Noodle Shop in Sunnybank

Hakataya Noodle Shop, Sunnybank

In my first placement location of this semester, I was sucking up lifts from 2 of my classmates who live at Sunnybank. They're both quite in the know about Asian food so in those days, rather than make my own decisions on what to have out for dinner, I just squeezed recommendations.

One place that was mentioned was 'the new ramen shop at Sunnybank Plaza'. A couple weeks ago, Hien and I went looking for this place. I was driving and still hadn't gotten my P's. Also, I couldn't park very well so when we couldn't locate it first attempt, I was too scared to repark at another spot, especially when I wasn't 100% sure of where we were going. The quest for ramen was abandoned that day.

Cute? I saw people use them too :)

I forgot all about this restaurant until last week when once again, we were faced with the age old question of 'what's for eating?' The only reason we decided on trying it out is because I walked past the shop front and thought 'wow that looks cool' followed by the realization that this was the ramen store we had been looking for.

There is something in good decor/marketing because without even looking at menu or prices, I had decided we would definitely be eating there based purely on the authentic Japanese eatery appearance.

There isn't much in the way of seating, just a few outdoor tables and a long bench to sit at inside. I snatched up a couple of seats at a long table with another family and guarded anxiously while Hien stood in line to order.

As for as ordering goes, the positive is that you don't have to think much because there are only 4 noodle options and a few snacks and sides. Of the 4 noodle options, 2 are basically the same thing but one having more pork than the other. The other 2 are spicy. While we were waiting for our order, I read the Hakataya Noodle story from a brochure. I decided that the concept is much like Ajisen, one of my favorite ramen chains in the world (I say world because Ajisen has branches in China, Singapore, Australia and of course, Japan). The deal with Hakataya is their tonkatsu soup, which means pork broth.

Nagahama ramen - Japanese pork noodle soup

I chose their signature dish which is the nagahama ramen. It was a very simple ramen dish with the noodles in a clear broth and 2-3 slices of pork. Although visually disappointing, the flavors were great. I thought the soup was delicious and I slurped up every last drop. There wasn't a lot of pork but it was nice and tender. The noodles came with this spicy pickled vegetable thing that tasted quite average on its own but great when added to the soup. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the ramen itself. It was a bit too much like instant noodle in texture and consistency. I do feel bad for saying that but honestly, instant noodles are yummy! I was worried about the quantity because the bowl looked smallish but this size was actually good for me. Maybe a hungry boy would want some gyoza or extra pork.

Karaka-men - Japanese spicy noodle soup

Hien ordered the karaka-men which is like mine but spicy. I had a taste of the soup and it sure was spicy. But unlike soups that are purely chili oil in flavor, this one allowed the flavor of the tonkotsu through it. The rest of the components of this dish were same as mine.

The main winner at hakataya is their famed tonkotsu. When broth is bad, it tastes like stock cubes and msg. This one was natural and simple in flavor but still had depth and complexity. I hear that tonkotsu is supposed to be highly nutritious too.

I also liked the addition of crushed sesame. This was supplied by an awesome sesame grinder with a vertical turning wheel. Pretty cool.

I'm not sure Hakataya provides a better product than Ajisen Ramen. Both have similar soup base flavors but Ajisen is more robust. I actually like how Hakataya's tonkotsu is more subtle and not as pungently garlicky. However, Ajisen has more variety, more 'stuff' with the noodles, bigger serving size, better noodle texture and is around the same price or less. All the same, I recommend giving Hakataya a go.


  1. At $10-13 a bowl, you'd think they can afford to add a few more slices of meat or at least half an egg. Call me stingy, but no way am I paying that much just for some pork soup and a few measly noodles :P

  2. Hi Steph...
    hahhaa we thought the same thing! A few extra bits and pieces in the bowl would've made a much better impression. Have you tried Ajisen in the city? It's like a similar flavor of noodle but much more stuff.

  3. I tried to go there for dinner recently but they were closed because they'd run out of noodles! Haven't been back yet but I've only heard good things. I think I'd just pay the extra few bucks for more pork! :)

  4. My mouth waters at the thought of this place. Simply one of my top picks for a nice 'homely' cooked meal

  5. The only thing I like most from hakataya is the ramen itself. I have never found any instant noodle that taste like that in terms of texture and consistency (Not that I have tried all the onstant noodle out there). Can you tell me exactly which instant noodle (brands, flavour, where to buy) that taste like hakataya ramen?

    Another good thing is that they give free extra ramen (just the noodle)!

  6. Hi Anonymous...

    The noodles I am talking about aren't really 'instant'. They're packaged in individual serves with the soup base but are 'fresh' as in, the noodles aren't 'dry' and they're kept in the fridge. The brand is Ajisen and there's a cartoon of a girl with a blunt fridge holding up a bowl of noodles on the packet.

  7. I think the best ramen noodle restaurant in Brisbane is Taro's in the city. They make their own ramen and the tonkotsu soup is very creamy with a thick slice of mouth melting pork with half egg. If you love tonkotsu ramen,you have to try taro's!!!

  8. Hi Anonymous...

    Oh yeh, I've been meaning to try taros. Thanks for the review... sounds so good!