Ramen at Genki Ippai (元気一杯)

Ramen at Genki Ippai (元気一杯)

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Recommended bowl: The blue bucket

You'll find neither sign nor shop hours posted outside Genki Ippai, just a blue bucket that master Doi-san hangs up to indicate when the shop is open. For years Doi-san enforced an eccentric set of rules, which were posted inside the shop. Included were a strict no photo policy, and a rigid set of guidelines outlining the order in which you were supposed to eat your ramen and spicy pickles. No talking aloud about ramen or ingredients, and no asking the staff questions about the ramen. Break the rules once and you could be blacklisted.

Alas, in early 2018 the Doi-san decided to do away with the old system and photos of your bowl are now allowed. The master's son Genki explains that the old rules were intended to allow each customer to enjoy their ramen in peace. However, in the age of social media, everyone wants to take photos, and the staff felt prohibiting this would be a disservice. People can now enjoy their bowl as they see fit, as long as they don't bother other customers.

Aside from the hype, this is one of the more legit and unique bowls of tonkotsu in Fukuoka — a creamy, wholesome, milky, almost buttery, white tonkotsu soup. The shop is like a box; there's really nothing to do but focus on your ramen. Eat half of your bowl and then add some spice from the counter (pickled takana vegetables when available, otherwise spice powder). For many, a must-hit spot when in Kyushu.

8 / 10