Last night, I had dinner with the girls (Tash, Natalie, Isa) at Hakata Kinryu Ramen, a ramen restaurant across the street from my house. In local foreigners lingo, we often refer to this place as the “Green Dragon” becauce of the cute mascot on the sign and on the menus, but curiously, the Japanese name of the restaurant actually means “Golden Dragon”.
Japanese-style ramen should not be confused with the instant noodles that we often refer to as “ramen” in the West. Japanese ramen is legitimate restaurant food made with fresh ingredients. There are a variety of different region variations of noodles, soups and toppings across Japan. Kyushu, and in particular, the Hakata area, is famous for tonkotsu (豚骨) broth, which is made out of pork parts and bones which have been boiled down for hours. Basically, it is liquid lard, but it tastes really good!
I ordered my usual favorite and a house special, the black sesame and black vinegar ramen (黒胡麻黒酢ラーメン) with a side of 3 deka-gyoza (でか餃子) a.k.a. giant pan-fried pork dumplings, a unique Kinryu spin on the traditional, regular-sized gyoza. The black sesame/black vinegar soup is a lighter than the tonkotsu pork broth, which is a good thing during the humid Japanese summer. The ground up black sesame adds a richness and complexity in flavor to the soup, while the black vinegar adds a little bit of a zing and lightness to the whole production.