It’s the soup, not the noodles, that defines the many varieties of Japanese ramen. Tokyo eateries specialize in shoyu, or soy-sauce flavored, broths. In Sapporo, it’s miso. But perhaps the most filling soup comes from Hakata, a city known for its signature rich and cloudy stock, made by stewing tonkotsu, or pork bones, on a high flame for up to 24 hours. In Hong Kong at Hide-Chan Ramen, which opened last month, you’ll find only Hakata-style ramen, which carries the unique broth as well as a special noodle (more on that later).
The restaurant gets its name from owner Hideto Kawahara, who set up his first shop in 1993 in Fukuoka, a town in Japan’s Kyushu prefecture that is known for Hakata-style ramen. Mr. Kawahara also has outlets in Tokyo and New York.
A second-generation ramen maker, Mr. Kawahara is a stickler for details—he even purifies the water used to make the broth to adjust its acidity. Compared with his New York and Japan operations, however, his Hong Kong shop still needs some work. From day to day, the soup base can be inconsistent. On our first visit, the soup was so thickened with lard that it carried an almost floury texture, a bit like drinking watery pancake batter. On a later visit, however, the broth was a smooth and comforting soup.