Everybody has their comfort food. That one dish that nothing else compares to; that no matter what, makes you feel all warm inside, like nothing else matters. For some people, it might be a nice hot bowl of homemade lasagne bolognese with a rich creamy béchamel sauce. For others, it might be a hearty serving of apple and rhubarb crumble covered with a sweet crème anglaise.
For me, it’s a huge serving of ramen. Rich, creamy, flavoursome soup; thin slices of succulent melt-in-your-mouth pork; perfectly springy and slightly chewy noodles. Glorious. Mouth-watering. Ramen. There’s just something about a huge bowl of ramen that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There’s nothing better than slurping up as many noodles as you can whilst being careful not to burn yourself because you just can’t wait for it all to cool down. Oh, and gyoza. You’ve gotta have a plate of gyoza on the side, or else it’s just not right.
The place may not seem like much, what with it being a small (often crowded!) noodle shop crammed tight with tables and chairs, but Hakataya Ramen is our go-to place whenever we’re craving a big bowl of the good stuff. Unlike many other ramen places on the Gold Coast that offer a large selection of different ramen bowls, Hakataya only has four types to choose from. And thank goodness for that, because you know they’re all going to be good. By specialising in just four flavours, they’ve had time to make them just right. And let me tell you, they are. Hakataya’s specialty is tonkotsu ramen, a cloudy white-coloured broth made by simmering pork bones for 39 hours.
Nagahama Ramen ($10.00)
The first bowl on the menu is the Nagahama Ramen. This is their standard tonkotsu broth, topped with tender melt-in-your-mouth char siu pork slices and chopped scallions. The broth is by far the best tonkotsu broth I’ve tried on the Gold Coast. Milky and thick, with the perfect amount of fat. Each order comes with a side of spicy Takana (pickled mustard leaf), which cuts through the richness of the broth nicely.
Tanaka Pickles (free with every ramen bowl)
My personal favourite, the Char Siu-men ($13.00), is pretty much a bowl of the aforementioned Nagahama Ramen, just topped with a lot of extra char siu! Because, well, you can never get enough of that soft, fatty meat! I should now quickly mention that each table has a small sesame dispenser which you can use to grind up sesame seeds to add to your soup. Together with the pickles, the addition of these condiments significantly enhances the flavour of the steamy broth.
Miso Spicy-men ($12.00)
Angie’s favourite is the Miso Spicy-men, a miso-based broth with added chilli, topped with char siu, chopped scallions and a nice amount of shredded seaweed. Whilst a bit too spicy for my liking, the chilli really complements the miso in this one. Neither flavour is particularly overpowering, allowing you to taste both the spiciness of the chilli and the earthy undertones of the miso, along with the lovely tonkotsu base.
Despite coming here more times than I can remember, only recently have I tried the Karaka-men. The karaka-men has quite a different flavour to the other dishes. Equally as spicy as the miso spicy-men, but a bit less creamy and rich compared to the Nagahama ramen. I think that the chilli cuts through some of the richness of the tonkotsu broth, allowing some of the other flavours, like the garlic, to come through. Spicy, but oddly refreshing.
Gyoza – Japanese pan-fried dumplings ($7 for six)
And of course, you can’t have any of these without a plate of Gyoza on the side. Out of all the times I’ve gone to Hakataya, I’ve never had a bad plate of gyoza. Slightly chewy skin on the top, nice and crispy on the bottom. And the filling, oh my, the filling. Juicy, meaty, tender, and bursting with flavour. I could happily eat a few plates of these (dunked in the ramen broth, of course!).
Overall, I’d definitely recommend Hakataya to any existing ramen lovers visiting Surfers Paradise, or anyone looking for a new comfort food to add to their list. Each bowl is packed full of flavour, with amazingly rich and fatty broth and perfectly springy noodles. My one criticism would be a slight lack of toppings. A simple half boiled egg or some pickled bamboo shoots would nicely finish off the bowl. However, with the amount of flavour in the broth alone, I’d happily finish off a bowl or two – toppings or not.
Shop 26, Centre Arcade
3131 Surfers Paradise Boulevard
Gold Coast, QLD 4217
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 9:00pm