We didn’t have plans to visit Canal City for long to be honest. We made our way here for one thing, and one thing only: The Ramen Stadium (ラーメンスタジアム) on the 5th Floor. My brother had been set on trying out one of the most popular establishments there called Shodai Hide-Chan (初代 秀ちゃん), and because I haven’t exactly done any research on the place, I just followed where he led me.
Canal City Hakata (キャナルシティ博多) lives up to its “city within a city” identity. Aside from the good 250 shops and eateries, there’s also a theater, a game center, cinemas, two hotels, plus a canal here. I’ve seen pictures of this place before and I liked how they incorporated the canal and fountain concept without making it look like the typical “Venetian” style. They even have fountain shows every 30 minutes from 10AM to 10PM.
And of course, they also have a Ramen Stadium here. The first legitimate ramen food court I’ve ever been to was at Sapporo ESTA, and it was there I had the BEST ramen of my life. I think you can imagine my expectations coming here. I wanted to eat something that would make it hard for me to retain the ramen I had in Sapporo as the number one in my heart. (SO DRAMATIC LOL.)
[READ ALSO: 7 Foodie Experiences To Try in Sapporo]
My favorite ramen chain here in Manila is actually Ippudo Ramen from Fukuoka, so I had a pretty good idea what deliciousness to expect. It was just an overwhelming sense of anticipation, to be honest.
The Ramen Stadium here is just as nicely decorated as the one in Sapporo, although this one has a more traditional feel to it. I imagine most major malls around Japan already have this kind of ramen food court. I’ve made it a mission to visit them all. Erase the concept from your mind that coming here is a “touristy” thing because lots of locals come here too.
It’s all for the love of good ramen, guys.
Shodai Hide-Chan uses pork neck to make their tonkotsu broth. Their recipe is a closely guarded one that has apparently been passed down through generations. There was already a line when we arrived for an early dinner, which just excited me. I forgot for a moment that Shodai Hide-Chan is one of the most popular among the eight restaurants here in the Ramen Stadium.
Shodai Hide-Chan uses a vending machine ticketing system as well. Thanks to the giant menu out front, you can pretty much mentally prepare your order even before you get to the machine. I forgot to take photos of the process itself because of the line behind us, but it wasn’t a complicated one. After acquiring our meal tickets, it didn’t take long before a friendly staffer took us to our seats.
As you can see, the restaurant isn’t big at all, but the turnover is pretty quick. My family and I, all six of us, were able to sit at the bar area after maybe less than 20 minutes of waiting. I ALWAYS love being seated facing the open kitchen because I get to watch all the action.
Most of us in the family got the ramen option with all the toppings: spring onions, bean sprouts, pickled mustard greens, a thin but large slice of fatty pork neck, a slice of chashu, a sheet of nori, and of course an egg. I never eat my ramen without an egg, and I’m glad I can have all of it for just 1150 yen. Compared to what you get at Ichiran for that price, this was definitely more sulit.
My mouth was already watering as I took my pictures, so when I finally dug in, I was well expecting to get an explosion of umami in my mouth. I was disappointed. The soup, for all its tasty and rich-looking appearance, didn’t have enough of an umami punch. It almost tasted bland compared to most other tonkotsu broth I’ve tried. Oh yes, it is rich, but I was looking for more flavor.
My complaints stop there though. Everything else in that bowl was delicious! The cuts of pork were so tender, and the fatty parts wanted to melt in my mouth. I am the type of person who likes veggies in my ramen, so I enjoyed the addition of the spicy pickled greens. The egg, as you can see, was still oozing at the center. Just the way I like it. It wasn’t as flavorful as most marinated ramen eggs though.
I also really enjoyed the noodles. They are super fine and just gorgeous in both appearance in texture. My brothers debated long and hard about whether or not they were going to order more actually. They have a list of prices posted on the walls for anything extra you might want to reorder for your bowl.
While Shodai Hide-chan serves up a solid bowl of ramen, the most unforgettable part of the meal for me was the 500 yen Gyoza. HOLY COW. The gyoza is AMAZING. We still remember and talk about these little bad boys every so often! These gyoza are smaller than normal, but my goodness do they pack a punch in flavor and juiciness! The exterior is crisp, with perfect coloring.
It’s just perfect gyoza; one you SHOULD NOT miss. I swear.
Overall, I enjoyed my Shodai Hide-Chan experience. It wasn’t everything I expected, but it really surprised me in areas I wasn’t even thinking about!
Shodai Hide-Chan 初代 秀ちゃん
5F Canal City Hakata, Ramen Stadium,
1 Chome-2 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku,
Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken 812-0018, Japan
Tel no: 92-263-6588
Hours: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM (Last Order 10:30 PM)