Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fukuoka Part 1: My death row meal

I’ve always wondered what final meal would be – logically it has to be something pretty special to satisfy unfulfilled desires and ignite memories of how great good food can make you feel. Well - I’m happy to say that my current pick for nourishment before walking the green mile would have to be tonkotsu ramen from Ichiran in the beautiful city of Fukuoka.
Dining at Ichiran is a pretty intimate experience. You start at the front entrance by purchasing little meal coupons of items you would like to order (ramen, extra sliced pork, boiled egg, etc) from a vending machine (another Japanese obsession). You then proceed to pick up an order sheet and proceed to your dining booth. Yes… that’s right, eating here is strictly a personal affair – you sit at an individual cubicle facing a curtain which is lifted only for your order to be served. No distractions from conversations, noisy diners or even peering wait staff… its just you – and a piping hot bowl of ramen.

You then customise your meal (eg. Strength of flavour, amount of oil in soup, texture of noodles, amount of garlic, etc) by circling accordingly on the order sheet, press the order button and await as your slip is taken into the kitchen.
What arrives is nothing short of life changing experience – an incredibly rich and creamy pork bone soup with al dente noodles and sliced belly pork, this dish put Kyushu on the noodle map of Japan. The soup here really awakens the senses and the uncontrolled loud slurping of the perfectly cooked noodles reduces you to a very primal state – savouring every moment in your little own ramen heaven. What really makes this dish is also the special sauce which has a complex chilli base and 30 other ingredients. Mindblowing.

As far as death row meals go – this one really hits the spot. How good was it? I returned every single day for the three days I was in Fukuoka for this dish. Some may think this excessive… but like they say - you only live once.


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