A few years ago I did a ramen tour in Fukuoka and stumbled upon this place that has yet to be replaced as the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever eaten.

First let me say that food in this part of Japan is radically different than further up north as Korea and China are closer than a lot of Japan. There is much more liberal use of garlic, chiles, and sesame oil which ads ridiculous umami and depth to the street food.

Pictured with me is Mark Miller, one of the great palates and chefs, my main culinary and travel mentor. Over the years we have had many great meals together.

The broth looks super spicy but it was just perfectly warm and lingering. The noodles, chewy and perfect for holding onto that wonderful broth. And the pork, well lets just say the pigs in this part of the world give pause to Berkshires or Iberico….must get back there-soon!

Simple, refined, elegant and fun. Isn’t that what “nice” restaurants are supposed to be yet are so often are not?

The room reminded me of my time at Montrachet in NYC back in the mid 90’s…a bit clubby, great art, seamless service with food that doesn’t complicate but delivers flavor with a right hook. The table side sea urchin ceviche was just stupid good! Sweetbreads with grilled lettuce agra dolce, grilled octopus, Mrs. Bitter Chef had fideua as her main-crispy noodles rich with shellfish umami and I, crispy pork shoulder with pisco sour #4. In these days of flash and big haired ego its reassuring to an old cook like me to know that jewels like this continue to shine.

So in my years of culinary work and travel I have developed a bit of a bitter skin. The hype out there nowadays can cause someone like me to retreat to the confines of my grill and wine fridge- never to go out and eat again simply because the media has just made EVERYTHING so damn AMAZING and PHENOMENAL…..exhausting. Anyway….last year I took Mrs Bitter Chef to Paris before I signed on with Hakkasan full time. We knocked off 10 *’s in a week ending at Ducasse’s rebrand of his Paris flagship. In a word, well, beyond words….I just did not think a high end restaurant experience could still move me to awe and disbelief. Thankfully, my bitter self sweetened and I had one of the best food experiences of my life. The langoustines and caviar is probably the best plate of food I’ve ever had, the rouget with liver sauce gave the finger to all the posers and the cauliflower studded with black truffles encased in brioche and carved table side…well you get the idea. Thank you Chef for keeping style and grace alive and well, albeit for a price!

So you enter the market, walk to the back right corner and seek this place out. The bowl of noodles is simple. Duck meat braised in master stock, rice noodles, a touch of chile and cori-ander. Add a cold beer or fresh young coconut and for 3$ you have entered a version of culi-nary heaven….simple, to the point, perfect….