A perfect place for your last, or first, meal in Japan’s southern ramen capital.

Generally speaking, ramen isn’t considered a breakfast meal in Japan. All over the country, you’ll see college students and office workers at their local ramen joint for lunch, people of all stripes getting it for dinner, and even clubbers and bar hoppers slurping down a bowl as a late-night snack. But ramen is a bit much for breakfast, most people would say, in terms of both the strength of its flavor and how filling it is.

And yet, we here at SoraNews24 say it’s perfectly natural to experience first-thing-in-the-morning ramen cravings if you’ve traveled all the way to Japan, and especially if you’re spending the a.m. in Fukuoka, once of the country’s very best ramen towns.

So today we’re heading to one of Fukuoka’s very best places to get breakfast ramen.

Located in the basement level of Hakata Station (downtown Fukuoka’s main rail hub) is a restaurant section of the complex called Hakata Ichibangai, where many of the eateries specialize in local delicacies. A lot of the restaurants don’t open up until around 11 o’clock or so, but Ikkosha starts serving up Fukuoka-style ramen at 8.

▼ Ikkosha

Opening so early and being located right at Hakata Station makes Ikkosha an extremely convenient place to get one last bowl of Fukuoka ramen in your belly before you have to leave town for the next stop on your Japan travel itinerary, or to get your first if you just got into town via early-morning or overnight means.

We rolled up just a little after Ikkosha opened for the day, but there was already a bit of a line. The flow of customers in and out looked pretty speedy, though, so we sauntered up to the touch panel terminal to buy our meal ticket.

We could have ordered Ikkosha’s standard pork-broth Hakata Ramen, but the screen showed that they also have a special Assari Morning Ramen. When talking about food, assari describes a lighter flavor with a clean finish, so, intrigued, we opted for a bowl of the Assari Morning Ramen for 630 yen (US$4.70) and added an extra topping of kikurage mushroom for 130 yen more.

Just as we’d predicted, it wasn’t long until seat for us opened up. We sat down, handed our meal ticket to the staff, poured a cup of water from the self-service tap…

and in less than a minute, our bowl of breakfast ramen was placed before us!

Aside from the supplemental kikurage we’d ordered, Ikkosha’s Morning Ramen comes standard with chashu pork and negi (green onions). As is proper ramen-tasting procedure, we started with the broth.

Instead of a cloudy all-tonkotsu pork stock, Ikkosha’s Morning Ramen is a comparatively clear hybrid tonkotsu and soy sauce broth. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor, though, as sipping a spoonful supplied us immediately with a meaty deliciousness.

As much as we love tonkotsu ramen, even it’s biggest fans will tell you that it can sometimes have a strong, and unpleasant, odor to it. Ikkosha’s morning ramen, though, is free of such smell, making it a ramen you can eat first thing in the morning without fear of having a strange scent on your breath for the rest of the day.

Next up, the noodles. These too are in the traditional Fukuoka style, straighter and firmer than what you’ll find in most other parts of Japan. Add in their smooth surface texture, and we’ve got nothing bad at all to say about them.

The kikurage and negi were high-quality too, adding some nice crunchy texture, and last, but certainly not least, the chashu is outstanding, tender and juicy.

Oh, and remember how we said the flow of customers in and out of Ikkosha is so fast? It’s not just because of the staff’s speedy service, but also because their ramen is so good that many diners, us included, wolf it down with lightning speed.

We should point out that there are also restaurants that serve pre-lunch ramen inside Fukuoka Airport. However, they don’t open until 10, making it a lot harder to squeeze in a ramen breakfast, and they won’t solve your noodle craving crises at all if you’re not leaving or arriving in Fukuoka by air.

Really, the only potential drawback we see to hitting Ikkosha for your morning meal is the possibility of feeling like your day has peaked so early on, but that’s a chance we’re willing to take.

Restaurant information
Ikkosha (Hakata Ichibangai branch) / 一幸舎(博多一番街店)
Address: Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, Hakata-ku, Hakataeki Chuogai Hakata Ichibangai B-11
福岡県福岡市博多区博多駅中央街1-1 博多一番街B-11
Open 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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