So the rumour has been confirmed. The ‘notorious’ tonkotsu king in Fukuoka established back in 1999 has recently taken a big U-turn. Not only is photo-taking allowed and even announced on site by a notice on the wall, we were greeted with a big smile by Doi-san (土井一夫) the Master and a very warm farewell as well, the type that a newcomer would probably make to try to get onto the ‘M-guide’ though we don’t think that was their intention at all. In short, the place has now decisively taken a friendly and tourist welcoming approach that was probably not expected even in the wildest dream of their frequent customers. Back to the ‘holy’ bowl it was indeed as balanced and refined as the legend goes, with the kick from the famous takana offered as condiments adding an unforgettable extra sensation. Hit them on a Friday before noon and found ourselves even having a few empty tables to choose from (yet please follow the instruction). That is indeed probably the best time to beat the crowd for those planning to pay pilgrimage. All that being said, there is still no door-front signage whatsoever but only the famous blue bucket so make sure you know what you are looking for when you get there. Still not sure what triggers them to suddenly take a more welcoming approach. Be it inspired by the success of their breakaway store or just they were being misunderstood all along, it is certainly very good news for all Hakata tonkotsu lovers. One interesting note to end, all the previously rumoured ‘commands and rules’ do actually exist as we were given an English menu with them being translated and stated boldly (and in Chinese as well). They did add those magic words ‘pictures OK’ with a big nasty smile on their face when they pass the menu over to us. Maybe it was a gimmick all along!