Restaurant offers free noodle refills, with a quick lesson in Japanese so you can order like a local.

With Japan experiencing record high numbers of overseas tourists in recent months, there have been reports of restaurants denying entry to foreign travellers, with the reason being that staff can only speak Japanese. However, some restaurants have been searching for a happy solution to the language barrier, and for one ramen restaurant in Akihabara it’s proving to be a success for both staff and customers alike.

▼ The restaurant is called Hakata Furyu, and it specialises in tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen, which originated in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Usually, when you see a line outside a ramen restaurant in Japan, it’s a surefire sign that the food is good, and in Akihabara, the place where you’ll usually see a line out the door is Kyushu Jangara, which is incredibly popular with overseas tourists.

▼ Kyushu Jangara is a famous tonkotsu ramen chain, and the one in Akihabara has been a popular tourist destination for around 20 years.

Hakata Furyu is now providing Kyushu Jangara with some stiff competition, because when our reporter P.K. Sanjun went to check it out, there was a line so long he had to postpone his visit to another day, when he could arrive right at opening time before queues had formed.

Even at this time, the store was about 80-percent full and around half the diners were overseas tourists, so you’ll want to get in early to avoid the queues. One of the reasons why the store is so popular with overseas visitors is because of the language support, with signs in various languages everywhere, and options for the menu on the ticket vending machine to be displayed in Japanese, English, Chinese or Korean.

Another drawcard is the two free noodle refills, and because the staff here only speak Japanese, they have a poster out the front to help customers order it, the Japanese way.

▼ How to order a free refill of noodles like a local: “Please say ‘kaedama’“, or “kaedama kudasai” if you want to say “noodle refill please” and make an even better impression.

People visiting Japan are often keen to learn a few words of the language to help them out during their travels, and “kaedama” is a word that hungry ramen lovers will definitely want to remember, so it’s nice to see the restaurant sharing some local tips with diners.

▼ The friendly multi-language support even extends to the seaweed in your ramen.

There are some other Japanese words that ramen lovers will want to learn, and they can be used at any restaurant in Japan to get a welcome response from staff. As always, adding “kudasai” (“please“) to the end of these words is a nicer way to request things and create an even better exchange.

▼ So if you like your noodles hard, say “kata kudasai” or for extra hard, “barikata kudasai“.

▼ And if you like a regular type of noodle, say “futsu kudasai” or for soft, “yawa kudasai“.

These words help to customise your ramen to suit your ideal tastes, and it’s the way people in Japan order it, so it’s a system that tourists are clearly falling in love with.

As for the taste, it’s a good, solid ramen, with a hearty flavour that’ll appeal to a wide variety of palates.

Though P.K. says the ramen doesn’t rate in the top five he’s had in his life, he had no complaints about it, especially when you get up to two free refills, which makes it great value for money.

The “kaedama” should be ordered when you finish the first lot of noodles in your bowl, with the theory being that the extra noodles will help you finish the remaining broth, leaving an empty bowl afterwards — because in Japan, it’s polite to finish all your food.

▼ So when you get to this point in the meal, call out “kaedama kudasai” followed by your preferred hardness, like “futsu kudasai”.

A system like this, which gives overseas visitors tips on how to order in the local language, which they can then use at other ramen restaurants, is a fantastic win-win for everyone, as the staff, who are often rushed off their feet, don’t have to stop what they’re doing, and can maintain the flow of the kitchen and quickly and efficiently fulfil everyone’s orders.

So next time you’re looking for a bite to eat in Akihabara, why not stop by Hakata Furyu, where you can try your hand at Japanese and order like a local? It’s a great alternative to writing your orders down and passing them to a person behind a curtain, and once you’ve got the knack of ordering in Japanese, it opens up a whole lot of doors to other fantastic places, like this ramen restaurant run by a professional mixed martial arts fighter who literally throws the kaedama to his wife in front of customers!

Restaurant information
Tonkotsu Ramen Hakata Furyu Akihabara main store / とんこつラーメン博多風龍 秋葉原総本店
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Soto Kanda 3-15-6
Open 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Irregular holidays

Photos © SoraNews24
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