Late last year, Ippudo (一風堂) conducted an in-house ramen development competition. The winner of the contest was a Hakata Black Curry Ramen, which the general public can now try at Ippudo stores across the country for a limited time only. I finally got the chance to try it earlier today, and it was delicious.
True to its name, the soup is a deep dark color and has all of the flavors you would expect from a Japanese-style curry, without the gravy-like thickness. One of my friends thought it was still a bit thick for his tastes, but I actually felt it was quite thin for something with such rich and spicy flavor. The Ippudo website indicates that soup combines both pork and chicken broth, along with miso and curry spices.
The ramen includes a slice of succulent pork, spinach stalks (at least they tasted like it), and some cabbage and corn drizzled with basalmic vinegar. The basalmic vinegar might sound a little odd, but I thought it tasted good with the vegetables and pork, and went well with the flavor of the curry soup. It seems that no bowl of ramen in Japan would be complete with a poached egg, which beautifully contrasts with the dark colors in this bowl ramen.
Again, the Hakata Black Curry Ramen is only available for a limited time (and only in Japan, as far as I know). It’s definitely worth a try. Check the Ippudo website (in Japanese) to find the shop nearest you. And if you haven’t already, check out my previous writings on Ippudo and its seasonal miso ramen.