An unexpected extension of my spring break in Hong Kong left me with a lot of extra time. My 5 day limited adventures left little room for ramen. My new 3 week vacation gave me nothing but free time. But let me say, Nagi's first overseas shop, Butao, was definitely scheduled in the 5 day version.
I rolled up at about 3pm and asked the staff if they would be open a little later at 6pm. "Sorry, we are already almost out of soup for the day". Maybe it was my use of Japanese, or the fact that master chef Ikota-san recognized me, but the last 2 bowls of the day were mine.
You see, serving up a mere 200 bowls a day means a heavily weighted supply and demand curve. The line is easily 2 hours throughout the day, and shows no sign of slowing up.
Taking a page out of *shudder* ichiran's book, you are given a multiple choice questionnaire to help decide. Please note, if you want Japanese, you'll have to ask for it; the default is Chinese and English.
Four choices: Normal, Black, Red, and Green.
My friend went with the green. Basil olive oil and parmesan cheese add an interesting touch. Untraditional, but good if you want a change from the norm.
I went with the black. Now we're talking. What is that thing anyways?
Black usually means a drizzle of mayu, burnt garlic oil. But Butao's black ball was a total mystery. If I had to crack a guess, I would say it's ground pork flavored with miso and colored with squid ink. Just a shot in the dark though.
I'm happy to say that Butao brought it. They really took what is great about thick tonkotsu ramen and introduced it to Hong Kong. Creamy and rich.
For those keeping score, it's very similar to their Shibuya shop.
Do me a favor, try it before you search the internet for reviews. Hong Kong's immensely popular openrice.com seems to suffer from the same problem as America's yelp.com. Haters. On the other hand, thick, oily tonkotsu is definitely not a Hong Kong taste. Many reviewers point this out. The negative press is moot though, just look at the line.
I'd love to say it's the best ramen in Hong Kong, but I only tried one other shop. Most ramen in Hong Kong looks like the type you'd get at a shopping mall food court or the airport.
If you live and work in Hong Kong, it might be tough to take a few hours out of your day. But if you are just passing through, do yourself a favor and get in that line.