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Taiho Ramen 大砲ラーメン本店
Price: 1000 yen
When I get asked what Japanese foods I like, my honest answer is Tsukemen (つけ麺) or Ramen. To please the locals, now I adjust my answer to ‘Tonkotsu Ramen’ (豚骨ラーメン).
I asked some of my junior high students where to get the best ramen in town, and I heard Taiho Ramen, (the original location or honten), was the place to go. Before even asking, I had a suspicion, as I had seen Taiho Ramen in a Japanese drama based on true stories that took place in Fukuoka Prefecture (福岡恋愛白書).
I live in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture. Kurume is the birthplace of Tonkotsu Ramen. The pork bone broth has since become popular all over the world, but this is where it started, at Taiho Ramen. Fukuoka City is famous for their own version of Tonkotsu Ramen, but the Kurume version – Kurume Ramen, was the first Tonkotsu Ramen.
The main store is not far from Nishitetsu Kurume (西鉄久留米) station - about a ten minute walk away, and next to the south end of Central Park (中央公園). We live close enough to walk if it’s a nice day – about 30 minutes.
The original location isn’t very big, but luckily it wasn’t crowded when we went. It smelled strongly of tonkotsu soup and we sat at the bar so we could watch the cooks.
For under 1000 yen, you can get a big bowl of Taiho’s Mukashi Ramen, Chashu Ramen, Wonton-men, etc. We got the Mukashi Chashu Ramen (him) and Mukashi Wonton-men (me). He got 変玉/ Refill noodles (200 yen). Kurume style ramen has rich pork bone broth and toppings like pickled bamboo shoots, chashu pork, boiled egg, bean sprouts, green onions and nori, over thin noodles. Optional toppings are spicy oil, garlicy oil, togarashi pepper, and pickled ginger.
Two happy warm bellies later, we agreed that was the place to go for ramen.
If you’re in Kyushu, there are several other locations which might be more convenient for you, including in Hakata/Fukuoka and Oita. Check the website for the details. http://taiho.net/