Friday, September 23, 2011


There's no month like a month with two three day weekends.  And since I went to Tokyo the previous weekend, this weekend seemed like a good opportunity for a trip down south to Kyushu.  I'd only been to Kyushu once before - a brief stay overnight on my trip a couple years ago on my way from Japan to Korea.  Everyone knows that Fukuoka is known for its rich tonkotsu ramen, but what I only learned recently is that Kurume, a small city within Fukuoka prefecture, is also famous for a similar style.

Taiho was one I had read about online and in a magazine, so I figured that while I was going down to Fukuoka, I may as well make a stop in Kurume to check it out.  From half a block away the whole place stunk of pork bone.  It's a smell I couldn't stand but a year and half ago, but now I associate it with delicious if oily tonkotsu ramen.  I walked in, sat down, and ordered the standard ramen.


The Bowl
I've had some thick tonkotsu in my time, like Muteppo or Hidechan, but this was different.  The broth was quite thin, though it was not lacking in oil.  I was expecting it to taste somewhat similar to famous chains Ippudo or Ichiran, and while there were similarities, Taiho was much richer, and tasted just like it smelled.  At tonkotsu shops like this you can often pick how hard the noodles are; I normally go for hard, but I got regular here, which were thin and chewy.  There was just a slice of egg in the ramen, and a few thin slices of chashu.  The chashu may not have been the thickest or juiciest I've had, but having sat in the broth for a while it tasted very strongly of tonkotsu.

Would I Go Again?
The strong scent of tonkotsu can still sometimes be a turnoff to me, and Taiho was stinking in it, but the ramen was delicious.  It's not my favorite tonkotsu, and not my favorite ramen of my Kyushu trip, but I respect the richness of it.  If I make it down to Kurume again, I'll definitely stop by.

Should You Go?
Not everyone will love the strong tonkotsu flavor, but everyone should try it at least once, and there's not really a better place than Taiho to do it.  If you ever find yourself in Kurume, that is.