Ramen at Gen Ei (麺劇場 玄瑛)

Ramen at Gen Ei (麺劇場 玄瑛)

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Recommended bowl: Stadium seating

Master Irie-san is something of an avant-garde ramen chef, famous for a shop in Tokyo's swank Hiroo neighborhood that can only be dined at via reservation. For his Fukuoka-based outpost, which opened in 2003, the shack-like exterior constructed of what appears to be thin sheet metal gives way through an entrance into a tiered, almost stadium-like seating arraignment directing all eyes on the chef. The menu, of course, offers tonkotsu; but there are also lighter soups such as shio, a shrimp-based bowl and a chili oil-topped tantanmen. The noodles are handmade, as is customary at Irie-san’s shops. All of the bowls are on equal footing — go with what you are feeling. More so than the ramen, the real vibe here is the seating, and the clear view every customer gets of the chef as he prepares the bowls. A ramen performance, of sorts.

6 / 10