Part the curtains at the simple storefront of Shoryuken, wrestle the creaky, swollen sliding door open, and step back in time to 1972.
A worn, handmade menu at the Fukuoka City ramen shop advertises ramen bowls for 100 yen, and it is clear that that price has persisted through the restaurant’s 39 years of existence.
Far from the pasty instant ramen quality you might expect for such a pittance, the firm, full-bodied noodles submerged in a light, salty pork bone broth are even more delicious than regular ramen noodles in the heavier broth for which the region is well-known. The delicious soup comes full of enough char siu pork, onions and kikurage to hide the noodles from sight.
A dusty clock stopped at 2:30 and 55 seconds hangs on the back wall.
“That clock stopped soon after we opened,” the original owner said. “I wanted to fix it, but it never got fixed. I thought about replacing it, but I just couldn’t. [Japanese pop duo] Chage and Aska ate here then, and one day, Aska looked at the clock and said, ‘Same time today, same time tomorrow, same time twenty years from now. You’ll always await me with the same time on your face.’ It was poetic, and that’s why I never replaced the clock.”
It has been known as “The Aska Clock” amongst regulars for nearly 40 years, and it sits to the left of a clock showing the correct time.
Middle-aged men lay their 100-yen coins down on the counter after their meals and say, “Thanks, Ma” softly to the woman behind the counter, as though they are young boys again. Shoryuken is frequented by current local junior high students, and by people who ate there as junior high students some time over the past four decades. The current owner is the original owner’s daughter and manages the restaurant by herself. She has no plans of closing the place down or turning into something else any time soon.
“My mother would have liked it this way,” she said cheerfully. “I’m going to run this restaurant the way it always has been, until I can do it no more.”
QBC Kyushu Business Channel also contributed to this story.