Butao Ramen

  • Restaurants
  • Asian
  • Japanese

88 Tongren Lu

Hong Kong chain Butao Ramen arrives in Jingan with some serious credentials, which means one thing – expect big queues. And don’t even anticipate being able to sneak in after the dinner crowds die down; Butao only serves 300 bowls of ramen a day, after which they shut up shop.

Founded in 2010 by Chandler Tang who had an urge to bring traditional Japanese Hakata ramen to the people of Hong Kong, the original store was located on Wo On Lane in Central. Now, with three outlets under their belt in HK, Butao Ramen have decided to come to the Mainland. Good news for the city’s ramen lovers, as long as you don’t mind waiting.

The ramen menu opens with the signature Butao Ramen bowl (62RMB) which has a thick and luscious base of creamy tonkotsu (pork bone) soup, served with a large sheet of seaweed and an egg on the side – if you haven’t previously sampled Butao’s ramen, it’s a very good place to start.

And then things get a little more exciting. To the signature pork stock, the kitchen adds black garlic, squid ink and minced pork to create the Black King (65RMB). It’s rich, garlicky and slightly fishy, and will turn your lips and tongue black, which is always fun. Up next, the Red King (65RMB) is a spicy rendition using chilli powder, miso, sesame oil and minced pork in both the meatballs and the stock. It won’t blow your face off, but expect some decent tongue tingle.

On a different track altogether is the Green King (65RMB), or the ‘east-meeting-west’ option which infuses the pork stock with olive oil and fresh basil, and tops the bowl off with Parmesan cheese. It tastes a little like what we’d imagine ramen to taste like if you mixed in some leftover pasta. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s wonderful.

For the Shanghai crowd, they’ve created a few limited edition bowls, including a yet-to-be-released Limited King (price tba). There’s also a Shoyu King (65RMB), which is a rather salty affair, and the Japanese Pepper King (68RMB), which ain’t for the faint of heart. As the menu aptly describes it, this bowl’s ‘secret hot sauce gives a unique shock of spice’. Additional spicy sauce is served free should you need it.

Finally, your bowl is customisable, with a range of options on offer for the oil, signature sauce and garlic intensity of your soup base, the ramen type and texture, and all come with the option of additional toppings and spicy sauce.

But if you’re unlucky enough to be customer number 301 – forget about it and go home.

By Victoria Brownlee

Venue name: Butao Ramen
Opening hours: 11am-until sold out
Metro: Jingan Temple
English address: First floor, 88 Tongren Lu, near Yanan Xi Lu, Jingan district
Chinese address: 铜仁路88号一层, 近延安西路