Before you go to Genki Ippai, you need a bit of warning. This shop has some idiosyncrasies that make it stand out. The first is well known; the blue bucket. Genki Ippai has no sign. The only way to find it and know that they are open is to look for the blue bucket outside. Warning number one: if the bucket isn't there, search for your noodles elsewhere. And though they have a set schedule, the master is known for closing if the soup isn't perfect that day.
The next warning: the rules.
- No phones
- No photos
- Drink some of the soup before eating the noodles
- Do not put any of the takana, spicy mustard greens, in until you eat a bit of the ramen
- Don't ask the master about the ramen
- Don't speculate about the ramen's ingredients
Yep, you might have heard about this one.
Well, the blue bucket was out, so I went in. I was the last customer of the day, and the shop emptied by the time my ramen came. I respect rules, so I didn't talk, didn't shoot photos, and ate the ramen in the prescribed way.
Frankly one of the best Hakata-style tonkotsu bowls I've ever had. I won't speculate about the ingredients, but it was mega porky without much stink. I understand why a few people rank this as their #1.
Then I did something I know I wasn't supposed to do; I asked the master about his ramen.
First I asked if I could take one photo, a photo of the rules, for my site. His response was unexpected. "Why would you think you couldn't take photos? You're the only person in here!" Sure enough, I was the only person left, as the blue bucket was no longer outside. Grasping the opportunity, I delved into his thought process. What's with the rules?
To sum it up, he wants everyone to enjoy his ramen to the max of their ability. If someone is talking on their phone, you might be annoyed and it might affect your dining experience. Hearing someone snap shots, and you might worry that your privacy has been invaded. If you are the one taking photos, you are wasting valuable slurping time; thin Hakata noodles are meant to be slurped quickly. Eat some ramen before adding the hot condiment is self explanatory; it was some of the spiciest takana I've ever had.
I don't think you'll be kicked out for breaking the rules, but he does have a sheet with them translated (both English and Chinese). Don't be that guy.
We chatted for about 10 minutes about all things ramen, and he wished me luck on my search. Then, as I was packing away my camera, he runs over to the kitchen and brings out a bag. A tupperware full of the shop's takana, as a gift.
So, yeah, this is officially my favorite place in Hakata.
Fukuoka, Fukuoka-shi, Hakata-ku, Shimogofukumachi 4-31
Closest staiton: Gofukumachi