I’ve written that I’m not a big fan of ramen. I did try Ukokkei, Ippudo and Mitsuyado Sei-Men and enjoyed my meals there but still wasn’t convinced. I think I’ve found the ramen that has made me a convert.
I’ve read about Butao Ramen from numerous blogs and online magazines and I’ve always wanted to try it. When my blog’s reader, Erin, who was based in Hong Kong invited me to lunch I suggested Butao and she agreed since she hasn’t tried it either. We were supposed to meet in the Causeway Bay branch until I discovered their newest branch in Tsim Sha Tsui which happened to be 3 minutes walk from where I live. I never knew a jewel existed right in my backyard.
Erin and I arrived at 11:25 am so we were first in line. The restaurant opened at 11:30 am sharp.
I caught the staff in a briefing session or was it a pow wow session? I heard some yelling. 😀
You can see two giant stock pots of their famous broth that cooked for 20 hours.
They were only 4 kinds of ramen to choose from- Butao King (original tonkotsu pork broth), Black King (black squid ink), Red King (spicy) and Green King (basil, olive oil & Parmesan cheese).
While sitting on the stools outside the restaurant waiting for it to open they gave us order sheets to check what we want to eat and the ability to customize the flavor and toppings to our taste. If you check the box labeled ‘chef recommendation‘ you leave everything to the chef’s whim. All you need is to check the thickness and doneness of your noodles.
omotenashi sheet / menu order form
For that day the Limited King, which they only serve 20 bowls a day, was made with tonkotsu pork broth with special kind of chili peppers. I was tempted to try this but wasn’t sure how spicy it was.
On the table were a variety of condiments that I felt weren’t needed since my ramen was pretty much perfect.
The container on the left contained spicy preserved vegetables and kimchi beansprouts on the right. I tried both with my noodles and found them very spicy and it didn’t really go well with my Black King. I enjoyed eating my ramen without the need for any additional extras.
This was Erin’s order. She wanted to try the original for her first Butao Ramen experience. Since she lives in Hong Kong she can try the other flavors any time.
I tried some of the broth and it was really rich and milky.
Butao King 豚王 HK$80
I was trying to decide between the Black or Green King and finally decided on the Black since I love squid ink flavor. I was disappointed that the pork belly wasn’t available that day. I ordered my noodles thick and super hard and it wasn’t as firm as I liked it but that it wasn’t soft either. I suggest ordering your noodles super hard.
my order sheet
When my bowl of Black King ramen was nearing the table Erin and I turned our heads and breathed in deeply. The wonderful heady aroma was the first thing that catches your attention.
When I saw the picture of the Black King in other blogs I was wondering what that scoop of black mound was.
Black King 黑王 HK$90
It turned out to be finely chopped uber tender squid with a high concentration of flavor from a healthy dose of squid ink. It’s the magic of this bowl of crazy good ramen. Each bite of noodles or spoonful of soup came with tiny bits of squid adding depth of texture and flavor to the dish. Since I ordered 1Chili there was a slight heat to my soup which just added to the overall goodness of the ramen. Salty, tangy, garlicky, spicy, touch of sweet – all these flavors just spell umami.
There were two large and lean slices of pork shoulder included. I was glad I didn’t order additional Japanese egg, extra pork or tree mushroom since there was more than enough meat and squid in my bowl for the perfect noodle to meat to soup ratio. I felt the noodles were just secondary to my enjoyment of the broth and all the stuff in the bowl.
I noticed the majority of the people ordered the Black King too.
So full, so good, so satisfied. Deliriously happy.
Thanks for joining me for lunch Erin!!!
A few minutes after we sat down the restaurant was instantly full. I asked one of the staff how many bowls do they really sell since I’ve read conflicting numbers which range from 200-300 bowls a day. She said on really busy days they can sell up to 500 bowls of ramen a day.
By the time we left there was a queue outside. I went back to another restaurant in the same street that night and people were patiently lining up in the super chilly weather. Eating a bowl of good, hot ramen is the perfect balm to cold weather. I get their patience.
We met a lovely Filipina staff who worked at Butao Ramen and had our picture taken with her.
I’m now a ramen convert thanks to Butao Ramen. I can’t wait to try the Green King and who knows maybe even the Red King.
Minden Avenue is parallel to Mody Road and is near K11 mall. It’s a dead end and surprisingly there are many restaurants in that street.
G/F, Kam Wing Commercial Building, 28 Minden Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui
G/F, Wo On Building, 8-13 On Lane Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central
G/F, 40 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
9 thoughts on “Lunch at Butao Ramen 豚王”
Merry Christmas Leslie,It very cold and wet in San Francisco at 38 degree right now. The black ink ramen look so good and hard to find in San Francisco ramen shops. Only Italian restaurants only. Will try it out when in Hong Kong and Taipei. Will researched on this shop in Hong Kong that sell dried shrimp filling wonton . I heard owner only one that make it in Hong Kong.
Merry Christmas Betty! Let me know if you find the wonton. Sounds interesting.
was about to do a post on butao too. i agree the black king is fantastic! then i tasted ramen yushoken in alabang. i think manila is lucky to have ramen that rivals or is even better than hk’s best http://tableforthreeplease.com/2012/12/an-evening-with-the-anointed-one-at-ramen-yushoken/
I have to try that one of these days. I hope they open in makati or nearer soon.
I agree. Butao ramen for is much much better than the commercial ramen chains outside of Japan. Butao is actually under the ‘Nagi’ chains of ramen houses in Japan. And if you do get to try Ramen Nagi in Japan it’s actually completely different. They serve a tonkotsu niboshi broth which is thick and patnered with thik curly noodles. Butao is very special just for Hong Kong.I’d have to disagree with anonymous Paul though comparing Butao and Yushoken. Like most ramen franchises outside of Japan, they fall very far from the tree. If people only knew. But their gyoza is good though.
I have to agree about Yushoken, Manila is quite lucky to have a serious Ramen house that actually makes real broth unlike powdered ones (UKK). It’s quite unfair to compare their Japanese counterparts though, the biggest difference is that they have to use local pork bones here, and we all know that Japanese pork is the best in the world.
love love love yushoken, but nagi is coming to manila this september/october.
CHE KEE WANTON RESTAURANT IS THE PLACE NEAR TIMES SQUARE AT CAUSEWAY BAY. TRY THE CRAB CONGEE ALSO.
Thanks for the name! I will list it in must places to try in HK.