Jason Lau is a ramen fanatic.
The Hong Kong ex-pat has gone toe-to-toe with bowls of ramen all over the world, including, naturally, Japan. It was a bowl on this side of the equator, however, that convinced Lau to go from noodle slurper to (almost) noodle store owner.
“I’ve tasted ramen all over Australia but none of them came close to authentic tonkotsu ramen until Hakata Gensuke in Melbourne,” says Lau of his first encounter with true-to-type tonkotsu ramen outside of Fukuoka, one of the dish’s spiritual homes. “It was exactly like what I tasted in Japan and I thought, ‘this is what Perth needs’. It’s taken me three years of constant communication with the Melbourne branch to bring the brand over. They wanted to make sure the same high standards could be achieved before it was ready for Perth.”
Lau and wife Jaclyn are in the final stages of opening Perth’s first Hakata Gensuke, a restaurant specialising in Fukuoka’s lush, notoriously porky tonkotsu style of ramen. The restaurant’s founder, Kousuke Yoshimura, opened his first restaurant in Tokyo in 2008 and has since expanded to the USA, Thailand, China and Singapore. He opened his first Australian outpost on Russell Street in 2014 and the store continues to draw queues three years on.
Perth’s first Hakata Gensuke has been closely styled on the Melbourne mothership (Hakata Gensuke now boasts four venues in the Victorian capital). The menu will feature the same original tonkotsu made with pork bones boiled for 12 hours as well as three variants: a black tonkotsu fortified with black sesame and fried garlic, a shio tonkotsu for those that prefer a lighter broth, and God Fire versions that come laden with extra chilli. Heat freaks are welcome to order the latter in varying levels of spice from 1 through to 15. Interestingly, unlike the house-made noodles served at most of Perth’s better ramen destinations – Ramen Samurai, for instance, or Nomstar – the noodles at Hakata Gensuke will be made in Melbourne and sent across the country three times a week.
Lau stresses, however, that everything else is made in-house including the stocks and the chashu, braised pork that is made with leaner pork shoulder rather than the fattier pork belly commonly found in bowls around the world. In addition to ramen, Hakata Gensuke East Victoria Park will also serve fried chicken karaage and house-made pork gyoza.
The restaurant will 30 guests at a time (read: expect to queue) although in typical ramen bar style, speedy service should ensure diners aren’t waiting too long.
Hakata Gensuke East Victoria Park opens on Friday September 15. Between September 15 and 17, the restaurant will give away free bowls of ramen to the first 50 customers at lunch and dinner with other guests enjoying 50 per cent all menu items. Prize draws will also be conducted during the opening period.
Hakata Gensuke East Victoria Park
850 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park
Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm; 5:30pm-9:30pm
Sat & Sun noon-9:30pm