Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tasting Marutai Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen and Saga Shio Beef Ramen

I'm on the last two packages of ramen from the Marutai gift box / sampler pack of Kyushu ramen.  It has been pretty fun eating my way around the island via the ramen in the box.  It turns out that the last two packages are really good, and in fact, both are in the top three ramen out of this box for me.  Talk about saving the best for last by accident.
Front of the big Marutai Kyushu box showing all 7 ramen inside.

Marutai Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen
I've tried Hakata tonkotsu style ramen before at the Kyushu Jangara Ramen shop in Harajuku Tokyo.  It was a really good soup that also had a scoop of spicy cod roe on top. The Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen from Marutai is actally really good too!  Not the same as the restaurant version, but this was the second best tonkotsu in the box and it is hard to say if it is second or third in the overall ranking.  The best tonkotsu and best tasting ramen was the Kumamoto Black Garlic Oil Tonkotsu Ramen I tried first from the box (go figure!).
The front of the Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen.  The packaging colour is mainly white, with nice bold black print for the name of the noodles.  The bowl of ramen show a nice creamy broth with a creamy whitish colour that goes well with the packaging design.  Hakata is in the NW corner of the island of Kyushu.
Back of the package with cooking directions.
You get two bundles of noodles, two foil pouches of powdered soup stock, and two satchets of oil/fat/flavouring.  It looks plain, but it turns into something delicious!
 The noodles all cook pretty quickly for these straight bundles of noodles, usually around three minutes.  After cooking the noodles and mixing in the soup powders and ingredients, there was delightful rich aroma to the broth.  The broth felt lightly creamy, had a firm, rich tonokotsu taste that was not overpowering, and it was a delight to the taste buds.  You could do worse at some ramen places in North America.  I actually added slightly less water than they recommended too (about 100 mL less) and maybe that added to the richness in flavour.  I drank all the soup, and the noodles were good with a nice chew.  Between the soup, noodles, and roast chicken this was one tasty bowl of home made noodles.  Second / third place for the tastiest noodles in the box is close call between this and the Saga Beef Ramen reviewed next.  After eating this ramen I wanted to watch the anime Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens which is a crime / thriller with bounty hunters set in the locale.
Finished bowl of noodles.  There is leftover roast chicken and green onions added to it.

Marutai Saga Shio Beef Ramen
This was one of the ramen flavour in the box that attracted my attention right at the start.  Beef flavoured ramen?  I don't see much ramen made with beef bone / broth.  According to the manufacturers website it is a shio (salt + soy) broth that is made from beef bone, veggies, onion extract, and even a bit of flying fish.  The seasoning oil apparently is blended beef tallow with sesame oil to add to the deep flavour in the soup. Saga prefecture is famous for their Saga Gyu (beef) Japanese black cattle.
The front of the package uses a deep goldeny yellow colour scheme to say that the ramen is rich is taste.  The bowl of ramen shown look tasty with a clear, but rich looking broth.  Saga is in the NW corner of the island as shown in red in the map.
Back of the package with cooking instructions.  You might think it is the same for all the packages, but the amount of water to add and the cooking time for the types of noodles does vary from one package to the next.
There is a little extra in this package of ramen.  There are two bundles of noodles, two satchets of beef tallow, two soup powder packets, and two satchets of dried seaweed.
Some Chinese roast pork I got for the ramen.  Nice crispy skin too.
The two assembled bowls of Saga Shio Beef ramen for lunch.
The broth for this bowl of ramen had a nice savoury smell to it that wasn't beefy.  The soup was delicious, not salty, but very flavourful with a hint of beef as an undercurrent to it.  There is some flying fish to add to the umami in this stock, but there was no fishiness like in Nagasaki Agodashi Soy Ramen tasted earlier.  Again, the soup was drunk to the last drop in this one.  The noodles have been very good throughout these packages of ramen and this one also had some noodles with good texture and chew.  I had this ramen with the rest of the roasted chicken and the roasted pork and it was great.
All of these packages of ramen are a poorer if you leave them as just soup and noodles.  Add some meat, vegetables, egg, or other ramen toppings to make them great meals!  This beef shio and the Hakata tonkotsu are pretty much tied for second, with the Nagasaki Agodashi Soy Ramen coming in third behind them I think.  This concludes my dining with this box of ramen from Marutai, and I had a wonderful experience with it.
Closeup of a bowl of ready to eat ramen with seaweed, roast chicken, roast pork, green onions.
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