Shop 25, 258 Warrigal Road, Runcorn
After a weekend of intense rain in South-East Queensland, it feels like the perfect time to put up a ramen post. I spent the last few days desperately craving warm soupy food but Marc and I were stuck out in Crystal Creek (which was actually very nice) and had no way of acquiring anything remotely close to soupy food. This visit to Genkotsu occurred a couple of weeks ago and the memory of it coursed tantalizingly through my mind with no resolution. Well... if I can't eat more ramen I can at least write about it.
Genkotsu appeared on the Urbanspoon Talk of the Town list a few months ago and has been kicking about on there ever since. This is notable because the Talk of the Town doesn't introduce newcomers very often so anything that shows up that I haven't tried before is worth keeping an eye on. Jenny visited Genkotsu Ramen twice and reported that it was very authentic and delicious so this only served to raise my interest. I asked her to go with me on Anzac Day (yup it was open; good old trusty Asian restaurants).
Genkotsu Ramen is located at the back of Runcorn Plaza. It was busy when we got there with a queue of people waiting outside the front door. We didn't help our situation by lining up on the wrong side of the line so that extended our wait but a few minutes. If I had gone with Marc, we would have probably rage quit and eaten somewhere else instead but luckily Jenny is more patient so we persevered.
Although the queue was sizeable, things moved quickly. The staff are efficient in allowing you to make your order (and pay) before you are even seated. Thus by the time we did get to sit down, the food arrived soon after.
Speaking of seating, Genkotsu is tiny so the tables and bench seats are very cosy. You get to know your neighbour up close and personally. I was paranoid the whole time that my messy ramen eating would result in soup slurping onto the lady sitting opposite me. Jenny said that this was like actual ramen eateries in Japan and I found the experience to be quite fun and atmospheric.
Black garlic ramen with shoyu soup base
We ordered a bowl of ramen each and a side of takoyaki to share. My pick was the black garlic oil with shoyu (soy sauce base) soup. It arrived in a large bowl with chashu pork, bamboo, shallot and the aforementioned black garlic oil. I mixed everything up and started slurping away. Mmmm... it was delicious. The ramen itself had a good degree of chewiness and wasn't at all overcooked. I thought it was thinner than some other ramen I've tried which serves to soak up the soup better. The slow cooked egg, soft pork chashu and marinated bamboo were all tasty elements to the dish. The best part though, was the soup. It had such a wonderfully rich and comforting depth of flavour. It didn't seem as fatty as the soup base at Hakataya but was still very aromatic and warming. By the time I was finished, there wasn't a drop of soup left.
Shoyu tonkotsu with side of corn
Jenny's order was the shoyu tonkotsu with an extra side of corn. The base dish was like mine but without the black garlic oil. I sampled a bit of her soup to taste the difference. There actually was a very notable difference even though we had the same soy sauce soup base. Without the black garlic oil, the soup is less intense but still very rich. I didn't have a preference either way and would say that which I order in the future would depend on mood. The shoyu base without black garlic was less 'heavy', which might be better for warmer weather.
Our takoyaki arrived as a serve of 6 on a small plate, topped with bonito flakes and Japanese mayo. These were made well with a gorgeous creaminess and detectable octopus pieces in each bite.
Close-up of shoyu tokotsu
I absolutely loved the ramen at Genkotsu Ramen. Since my first visit, I've been planning another trip with either Marc or my mum and dad. I just wish it wasn't so far away. The ramen is inexpensive, filling and so, so delicious. Although it's a popular eatery, don't be discouraged by the queue because it moves relatively quickly. As winter hits, I hope I'll be eating ramen regularly. It truly is soul-warming food.