George Street’s Regent Place adds to its growing list of Japanese restaurants with the arrival of Hakata Gensuke in the former Chefs Gallery space. The global ramen house first hit Australian shores in 2014 with a spot on Melbourne CBD’s Russell Street. It quickly gathered lines of die-hard fans willing to queue for steaming bowls of the soup, and seven more stores across Victoria and Western Australia followed.
Allan Lam, who brought the Japanese eatery north to NSW, can’t believe it’s taken this long to bring the bowls to town. “I remember eating [at Hakata Gensuke] in Melbourne and thinking it’s absurd that we do not have it in Sydney,” he tells Broadsheet. “There are plenty of ramen stores here, but I truly believe Gensuke’s broth is the most sophisticated.”
The chain is known for its tonkotsu ramen. The signature broth is made with pork bones, which are boiled for 12–16 hours, along with a special trio of soy sauces from Fukuoka and seafood stock. The result is a creamy, collagen-rich soup brimming with umami. Gensuke’s recipe was developed by the chain’s founder, Japanese celebrity chef Kousuke Yoshimura, whose Ikkousha Ramen chain won Singapore’s Ultimate Ramen Championship back to back in 2011 and 2012.
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Sydney has received the classic menu: 10 iterations of tonkotsu and a snackable collection of side dishes, like a peppery plate of karaage chicken and pan-fried pork gyoza. The most-ordered ramen is the Special Signature Tonkotsu, which features pork broth and thin house-made noodles with chashu (braised pork slices), soft-boiled egg, seaweed and menma (fermented bamboo shoots).
Another favourite is the Black Tonkotsu, where the broth is supercharged with fried garlic and black sesame paste to deliver its namesake hue. If you’re a fan of heat – or simply willing to have a red-hot go – order the vibrant God Fire. It’s a choose your own adventure, with five levels of spice ranging from an approachable 0.5 to a 4.
The city digs are easy to find under an illuminated cherry-red sign on Bathurst Street. Inside, there’s room for 40 with simple wooden stools and no-frills tables allowing the soup to star. “We wanted to recreate the Japanese experience with people sitting shoulder to shoulder. All you can hear is a chorus of people slurping on their noodles,” Lam says.
Hakata Gensuke Sydney
Regent Place Shopping Centre, 501 George Street, Sydney