Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hakata-Maru Ramen, Haymarket

Yes I admit it. This winter, I'm addicted to ramen. There I've said it. Can't be helped when quite a few ramen joints have opened up within a short space of time. Hakata-Maru Ramen at Market City Food Court opened about a couple of weeks after the opening of Sussex Centre Food Court's Ramen Ikkyu. While there was so much hype and countless reviews (and criticisms) about the latter, you don't really hear much about Hakata-Maru Ramen unless you are in the area. It was heartwarming to see this opening at Market City as it used to be an old regular spot back in my uni days.

Hakata-Maru Ramen is the first store to open in Australia under Toridoll Corporation, which has more than 800 stores worldwide including Japan, China, Korea, America, Thailand and Russia to name a few. 

On this occasion, I was kindly invited by Hidetoshi from Toridoll to sample the dishes that Hakata-Maru Ramen has to offer. The menu was quite limited but it is the quality that matters. As the name indicates, the primary focus is hakata-style tonkotsu ramen with thin and straight noodles - similar to Ippudo but with cheaper prices.

We were invited by Hide into the kitchen to see what happens behind the scenes at this ramen joint. The ramen itself was made in-house at the premises with the tonkotsu broth cooking inside the massive pots. 

We also got a glimpse of the thin and straight Hataka-style noodles stored in a chiller where the temperature and humidity can be controlled to an optimum level. The hardness of the noodles depends on how long it was boiled though it generally takes about 40 seconds to cook till it has that bitey texture due to a low-moisture content. 

Those noodles!

You get a choice of the following ramens:
- White Tonkotsu
- Black Tonkotsu
- Red Tonkotsu
- Chasu (white tonkotsu broth with extra pork)
- Prawn and Vegetable (unfortunately not recommended for vegetarians and those on strict religious diets because they still use a pork broth)

When you order your choice of ramen and toppings, you can add as much as you want from the bowls of white sesame, red ginger and spicy takana at the front counter. 

Complimentary toppings: White sesame, Red Ginger, Spicy Takana

How crystal clear does this bowl looks? The broth was clean, slightly creamy and just simply light in its basic form. The pork was reasonably tender and the egg was full of oozy goodness. It's super cheap too! The servings sizes were slightly smaller and there wasn't as many toppings in my bowl compared to other ramen joints (unless you want to order more toppings for an additional price) but they still got me full in the end. CC absolutely loved how thin the broths really were since she's generally not a fan of thick and rich broths.

White Tonkotsu ($7.80)

If you like a bit of spice with your ramen then the Red Tonkotsu is the ideal option for you. It uses a spicy miso ball that you mix with the tonkotsu broth to add some fiery zing to your ramen. Personally I thought that it wasn't too spicy and CC was able to handle decent amounts of it. Perfect winter warmer to have on a cold day.

Red Tonkotsu ($8.80)

Out of the ramens I've had at this store, the black tonkotsu is my personal favourite (though they are all amazing). The tonkotsu broth was topped with a smear of garlic oil and a sprinkle of garlic flakes. I loved the extra punch that the garlic oil adds to the broth to give off an incredibly flavoursome, fragrant and slightly richer broth that complemented well with the toppings including the slices of pork shoulder and the crunchy black fungus. 

Black tonkotsu ($8.80)

Personally, I've never tried a vegetable ramen but hey there's always a first time for everything. Interestingly, this was the most expensive of all the other ramen dishes at $11.80 (I'm guessing it's because of the prawns?). By this point, we were incredibly stuffed and could barely try this bowl. From what we tried, we really enjoyed it. We did notice the slight difference in the broth. While it does use a tonkotsu broth, there is also soy sauce added to this dish along with stir-fried prawns and veggies to deliver one of the most interesting and delicious ramen dishes we've tried. There is also a generous amount of toppings compared to the other ramen dishes at this eatery. If we weren't so full, we would gladly slurp up the entire bowl.

Prawn and vegetable ramen ($11.80)

You can also get an extra bowl of noodles/kaedama for $1 extra which you can order separately or at the same time as your ramen. The idea of the kaedama is to add them to the broth and eat it soon after so you can taste the bitey texture of the noodles. If it didn't get full so easily these days, I would make the most of the kaedama. 

Kaedama ($1.00)

The chicken wing karaage was sold out when we were there but we were getting full from trying all of the ramen so we ended up sharing a small set of gyoza dumplings. The skin was crispy to our liking while the filling inside was piping hot. These dumplings are great to have for a side dish though I will certainly try out the chicken wings next time after hearing so much on how good they were.

Gyoza dumplings ($2.00)

While it is located inside a food court, you can still hear the staff chanting noisily like the staff at Ippudo. The interior decor stand out above the other stalls with its colourful appearance. While it does get busy at times, the service is quick so you wouldn't have to wait too long for the food. I'm sure lots of people will be checking out Hakata-Maru Ramen for the unbelievably cheap and yummy feed that will satisfy your hunger and won't blow your budget.

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie and co dined as guests of Hakata-Maru Ramen, courtesy of Hidetoshi Tsuboi and team. Thank you so much for the wonderful evening! Opinions are personal.

Hakata-Maru Ramen
Market City, Level 3 Foodcourt,
9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9281 6648
Hakata-Maru Ramen on Urbanspoon


  1. Nothing like an extra hit of garlic oil to complete your ramen! :D

  2. imagine this place being opened when we were at uni - trouble lol

  3. Not that it directly compares as they're different styles, but would you say you preferred Ikkyu more or Hakata-Maru?

  4. Love seeing the little bundles of fresh noodles, and check out the size of those stock pots!

  5. Oh man only $1 for extra noodles. What a deal!

  6. i love looking into the kitchen and prep area of ramen places, its always so comforting to see those big pots of stock boiling away! ive had far too much ramen this winter!

  7. yes, winter warmers are so awesome! esp with all these ramen joints!! :D
    i must agree with your friend, im more of a fan towards the thin soup base :)
    shame the wings were sold out though :( but next time!
    - Cassie

  8. That's cool how you got to go out back and see the kitchen. The price is certainly right at Hakata. And they do a great bowl of ramen too! Black is also my fave

  9. Yum!!! I love my broth on the thin side, so will definitely try them out :)

  10. Sherrie - i do love a bit of garlic oil to my ramen :p

    Tina - OMG I know hey! less trips to fast food joints and Satang Thai because of this joint haha

    Ramen Raff - it's prob my fave one here

    Michael - not sure. they are different styles though. still haven't tried the new menu at Ikkyu. in terms of lightness of ramen broth and costs then definitely hakata-maru. in terms of flavour and toppings then ikkyu

    Helen - same here! love looking at noodles before and after it's cooked :)

    Christine - ikkyu has free kaedama but the ramen prices at hakata-maru are so much brain hurts lol >.<

    Amy - always very interesting to see behind the scenes and so much to take in!

    Next Stop Food - everytime the weather is freezing, i had to get something like ramen, pho or laksa hehe. yeah my friend wasn't a huge fan of ikkyu because the broth was thicker - and i haven't even taken her to Gumshara yet!

    MAB V Food - prices and decent ramen = winning combination :)

    Olivia - hope you enjoy this one :)

  11. Poor hygiene - they take your money then touch your food

    It tasted good, but I perhaps will not go there anymore. First the cooks don't use plastic gloves. I hope that they wash their hands properly. Second the cashier who is not expected to use the gloves also participates in cooking adding some ingredients to your ramen. Right, first she takes money from you as well as from 100 people before you some of them could be right from toilet and then touches your food. I would not like to catch some nasty disease. It is a pity they tasted good.