Ramen Walker is the ramen magazine that lovers of the Japanese noodles use as a reference book for the best shops in the area and new shops to adventure to. I pick it up for new delicious inspirations whenever I pass by it in the bookstore. There is one shop in the Gifu region that has reigned supreme three years in a row now, selling a pretty unique ramen. Finally, I had an opportunity to try it out myself, and as a ramen fan, I can testify that the quality and the hype are completely legitimate.
Hakushin Ramen in the cutlery-famous Seki City has received the top spot for three years in a row. When my girlfriend and I arrived at noon, the shop was already full with about 10 people lining up outside. From the simple display outside the shop, all we know is that the shop sells “Ebisoba”, a type of ramen that uses a lot of shrimp to create a thick broth. After about 20 minutes of waiting (which is pretty good), we entered the shop hungry and anticipated.
At the ticket machine, there were 2 main options: ebisoba or tsukemen. You can order toppings to add more meat, eggs or vegetables. We both opted for the ebisoba with extra pork cartilage, since it’s my first time seeing it available and it’s recommended by reviews. In the shop with 20 seats or so, we were seated at the counter facing the kitchen directly. The aroma of the shrimp-filled soup surrounded us as we waited for our orders to arrive.
The bowl of ramen looked absolutely amazing upon arrival. Three huge slices of pork with cartilages, seaweed, cooked egg, Japanese mustard greens, diced onion topping over the thick noodles in a bowl of super thick broth cooked with shrimp and pork bones! The soup was a whole lot richer than I expected, and it demonstrates the huge amount of ingredients they used in making it. The taste was a mixture of seafood sweetness and a powerful pork flavour. With some chilli pepper sprinkled on top, it was one of the most impressive and unique ramen soups I’ve ever tasted.
The thick and chewy noodles matched the soup perfectly. The richness of the soup covers the noodles as you bring it into your mouth. The pork, however, was by far the biggest surprise I had. Most ramen shops offer cha-siu (sliced pork) of variants as toppings, but almost never would you be served ones with cartilage. When I bit into it, I expected resistance from the materials under the meat, but my teeth chewed straight through. The pork and cartilage were cooked for so long and so thoroughly that they became extremely tender. The cartilages have essentially melted into a gooey texture that carries the flavours of the pork in a new rich way. The pork was simply incredible and stood on its own in this bowl of ramen that is already amazing.
For about ¥1000 ($10) including the extra pork, I didn’t want to dish out the additional money for extra noodles, and I’m glad I didn’t. The shop offers free rice during lunch time, but I was so satisfied with the super rich soup and the filling pork cartilage that I couldn’t possibly eat the rice even if I wanted to.
I left the shop completely satisfied, both in my stomach and my heart. The quality was nothing short of impressive. The early line-up was completely understandable given how delicious it was. Hakushin got my seal of approval from the first taste, and earning itself a really high rank on the Jackson Ramen Walker too. (You can check out my other ramen articles for more recommendations!)