Hakata Ramen is located on the second floor of a shotgun narrow building in downtown Montreal. It is pleasantly comfortable inside and the service is generally excellent. Indeed, I recall that on the night I was served the Tempura dish you see pictured above, my server had an uncanny ability to materialize within minutes of me finishing a dish, ready to take my next order.
The menu at Hakata Ramen is largely Japanese, but there are a few selections that have a definite Korean influence, notably the ‘Hakata Hot Stone Rice’, which looks to be a Japanese interpretation of the classic Dolsot Bibimbap. One such fusion dish I tried at Hakata was their Grilled Beef Short-rib, which was very enjoyable, if a little sweeter than the Korean version of the dish.
It was rather unfortunate that the Tempura Shrimp at Hakata Ramen turned out to be so very disappointing. You would be hard-pressed to find a Japanese restaurant that doesn’t serve at least one form of Tempura and, although there is considerable variation in style and quality, it is generally hard to mess it up. Unfortunately, Hakata Ramen managed to do just that.
Nowadays, you get Tempura that is breaded (typically with Panko), although this, strictly speaking is not a proper Tempura. At Hakata, they did stick to the traditional batter but, instead of a delightfully crisp and light coating, theirs was soft in many places and extremely greasy. I would hazard a guess that, not only were they frying at too low a temperature, their oil had not been changed very recently.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the Shrimp in this dish. It was fresh and tasty enough, I suppose. Unfortunately, the delicate notes of the Shrimp were masked by the rather stale, unpleasant taste of the poor-quality oil. Since Hakata has generally served me decent dishes, I am inclined to be charitable and put this down to simply being a poor-night for Tempura at this establishment, but overall, this appetizer was a major fail.