Shop 26 Centre Arcade
3131 Surfers Paradise Boulevard
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 7 5526 7055
Melbourne’s ghastly cold weather of late means that it’s the perfect time to enjoy a bowl of ramen (or two… or five). And although I’m far from being able to make my own ramen at home, I’m glad that there are a handful of cheerful restaurants in Melbourne that serve this glorious bowl of collagen and goodness. That said, I haven’t been able to find a restaurant here that can make ramen as good as Taro’s in Brisbane. In fact, the only other place that I could consider a serious contender would have to be Hakataya Ramen on the Gold Coast. What?! Queensland does ramen better than Melbourne? Yeah, well, you better believe it…
Marty and I came across Hakataya by accident. We were meant to try out this other Japanese restaurant in Surfers Paradise for lunch but we took our time in getting ready and what not, so by the time we arrived the restaurant had already shut its doors. Damn. Luckily, Hakataya was just downstairs – and open – so we decided to give it a crack.
Hakataya is a bit of a Queensland institution; there are two branches in Brisbane and one in Goldy. Their menu is short and sweet, with only four ramen dishes to choose from (and one being the same as another variation, except with more chashu (pork slices)) and several side dishes. Hakataya claims that their broth is made from the ‘selected bones of Australian pork’ and simmered for 39 hours before being dished out to customers.
We started off with some gyoza (six for $7). They were beautiful, especially dipped in chilli oil though I would have liked it if they had that lovely sweet-salty-tangy gyoza dipping sauce available rather than just vinegar. The waiter also gave us complimentary takana (spicy Japanese pickles made with mustard greens), which was greatly appreciated. Bags of it were available for takeaway for $10 and in hindsight, I wish I had bought a few to take home with me.
Marty ordered the karaka-men ($11.50), which was essentially a spicy tonkotsu ramen (background). I also went for the spicy option by going for the miso spicy-men ($12), a miso broth with chilli.
There was the option of adding extra chashu for $3, which Marty took up – he’s a pork lover so naturally, he thought this was necessary.
I can definitely give Hakataya two thumbs up. Both bowls were super-injected with heaps of collagen, a generous serving of bouncy noodles and lots and lots of flavour. They tasted fantastic on their own, but adding more chilli oil, takana and ground sesame seeds just made each mouthful verging on orgasmic.
We returned a few days later, this time for dinner. We rocked up just as they were getting ready to close (our bad) but they happily accommodated us. Marty ordered the karaka-men again while I decided to try their Nagahama ramen ($10), which was the name given to their standard tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. Although my Nagahama ramen was lovely in all its milky-ness, I thought my miso spicy-men was much tastier. Marty, on the other hand, thought his broth was thicker and fattier this time around and thus, didn’t like it as much. Because we were dining pretty late, we figured that the broth had more time to let the collagen seep through, resulting in a thicker broth. While I thought that was a good thing, Marty didn’t and all the fat sitting on the surface put him off – but only very slightly because he did manage to eat the whole thing.
These days, not a lot will convince me to go to Surfers Paradise. After discovering Hakataya though, I now have another reason to actually visit Surfers. Okay, so they could do with a hygiene practices refresher (tables were sometimes left unwiped for a long time and I saw soap suds on cutlery when I went to pick up some soup spoons) and I marked them down for not giving us the option to add egg to our ramen. That said, I will still rate Hakataya higher than all the ramen places I’ve had in Melbourne so far – and that includes Little Ramen Bar, the newest kid in Melbourne CBD.