For my birthday dinner, it was a toss between Butao and Ippudo at the Causeway Bay area and given all the raves we heard and read about Butao, we decided to try the former out. So we left our hotel in search of Butao around 6:45PM. By the time we found the alley, there was already about 15 people ahead of us. Not bad considering there were talks about really long line. Turns out they were right, the line we were on was actually the second line!
After about 20 minutes of standing in line, a guy in black and wearing an apron, came out and started handing out order sheets and taking orders. Our turn came and we asked for the English order sheet so the guy skipped us and went back in a few minutes later. Even though I already knew what I was going to order, I still wanted to see their menu in English.
I figured since everyone was lining up and willing to wait this long, there really must be something about their ramen that’s worth all the fuss and wait, right? RIGHT??
Huh. The wait for the much-raved about ramen ended after 1.5 hours of standing in line. Hungry and cranky, we were ushered into the last table inside this teeny tiny restaurant. We sat in a cramped table along with 3 other people and a few minutes later, two bowls of ramen were plunked unceremoniously in front of us; two glasses of water followed and that was the extent of their service. In the middle of the table was a container of chopsticks, toothpicks and assorted condiments (such as pepper, garlic cloves with garlic press, vinegar, etc) which we didn’t bother to try.
B ordered the Original Butao ramen as he didn’t like a lot of fuss in his food and he wanted something he was sure he would eat.
I ordered the Butao King with normal taste, light infused oil and light garlic as well as the complimentary BBQ pork and cabbage.
B didn’t have much of a comment on his order. I guess he was too hungry. I never got to taste his ramen as I assume the broth is the only thing different between our orders. I have always liked all dishes that use squid ink and I had high hopes that this was one of those dishes (let’s not forget that everyone was positively raving about the Black King). I was sorely disappointed. While the broth itself was aromatic, the “black ball” and the garlic got to me so quickly that I couldn’t even finish half my bowl. I ordered my ramen light on both the oil and garlic but given that I was overwhelmed with it at that rate, I could imagine what normal must be like! The noodles were good but nothing to rave about. While other people like the umami taste of the ramen (or their food in general), B and I had no affection for it. We were left dried-mouth and thirsty.
This was one of those rare times that I absolutely couldn’t finish my food since I became an adult. B bravely finished his bowl of ramen, maybe because he was THAT hungry or maybe because he hated to let an expensive bowl of noodles go to waste. Since he didn’t like squid ink, he didn’t bother finishing my bowl. As soon as we were finished, we paid and left in a hurry.
As we walked along Times Square, the strong aftertaste of what we ate remained in our mouths. I think we finished off almost a liter of soda and water just to wash it off.
While it’s always good to experience whatever food hype and craze that goes on, it’s always good to take these raving reviews with a grain of salt. After all, one’s taste bud is different from another. This is certainly proof of that. As for B and me, we certainly don’t feel that the 1.5 hours of waiting and standing in line is worth the time and effort for 2 bowls of ramen. But again, that’s just us.
Address: Butao Ramen, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Date Visited: July 11, 2013 (Dinner)
Service: 3 (Well, they did hand out fans for us to use during the long wait)
Overall Value for Money: 2