Ramentic brings the narrow, small-noodle bar vibe of Tokyo and puts a Braddon twist on it, offering a range of ramen with different broth bases. I tried the Ramentic ($18), with the tonkotsu broth, chashu pork belly, mushrooms, bamboo, spring onion, mushrooms and takana mustard leaves, and added an egg ($3). Arrive early – Canberra loves a trendy food, and there are long queues at peak mealtimes. There are still some ‘newly opened restaurant’ hiccups (kitchen dockets not printing, register issues), but the staff handled them well and a short wait after ordering my ramen arrived, so I was happy! The broth was buttery, rich and filling, although it was rather runny, and didn’t have the depth of flavour I’d hoped for. But the toppings helped, especially the mushrooms and takana (the little bit of spice was delightful). There were three thin pieces of fatty pork, which were tender, but I found the noodles to be rather thin, and they clumped together. I do have high expectations of ramen, and love that we can get it here, but I’d hoped for a little more authenticity. I’m keen to go back and try another broth for sure though.
Ramentic, 134/24 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, no website
One of the highlights of this visit to Tokyo was the incredible sashimi and sushi meal at Kyubey. We sat at the main restaurant’s ground floor bench, and had a chef serving us directly (service charge was applied) – this was worth the extra fee to watch the chef’s knife skills – and chose the Iga kaisek set (¥18,000 at lunch with the anniversary special). The meal started with two beautiful entrees, one with tofu and aloe, the other with a raw seasonal fish – light, delicate and delightful. Then the sashimi began – red seabream, middle tuna, squid and a couple of others I ate without asking the name. Each was fresh from the Tsukiji market and perfectly timed to minimise the time between being sliced and eaten. Following a relatively large piece of grilled fish (possibly bonito?), the nigiri sushi began. Each was a delight, particularly the ootoro (fatty tuna), which melted in your mouth and had such a delicate flavour – heavenly. The prawns were brought out live, killed in front of us and put on the rice (you can also choose to have it cooked, as I did). It doesn’t get fresher than that! Next up soup, grilled eel (so creamy!) and small rolled sushi. The meal ended with an egg omelette block and a large wedge of watermelon. Top class sushi and a must-visit for a splash-out meal.
Kyubey Ginza, 8-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, http://www.kyubey.jp/en
As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of Japanese food, so love visting The Galeries in Sydney, which is full of great Japanese dining options. Yayoi had been on my wishlist for a while, and when I finally made it, it didn’t disappoint. I ordered the Yayoi Gyozen ($30), the recommended meal set. It came with four beautifully presented dishes, so was a perfect sampler of their menu. The salmon teriyaki was a treat to begin – tender fish, sweet teriyaki and a nice mix of textured veggies to accompany it. Tick. The wagyu beef sukiyaki was similarly tasty, with thinly cut slices of beef and noodles with plenty of sauce, this portion was surprisingly filling. Tick. Next was the pork tonkatsu. with a super flaky, crispy batter on the outside and tender pork inside, not to mention the lovely tonkatsu sauce and a sprinkling of sesame. A light drizzle of lemon lifted this dish into supreme awesomeness. Tick. Finally, I savoured the salmon salad at the end, enjoying the refreshingly simple taste of the sashimi salmon and accompanying lettuce and sprouts. Tick. Everything was delicious, tasty and just the right size. Perfection.
Yayoi Teishoku Restaurant, The Galeries, 500 George Street, Sydney NSW, http://www.yayoi.com.au/
I’d always thought of Chaco Bar as a yakitori place, and it is, but only for dinner. We went for a weekend lunch, and discovered that the lunch menu is all about the ramen. I picked the yuzu scallop ramen ($16), with one bearded Hokkaido scallop, a wanton, black mushrooms, leek, Japanese mustard greens (mizuna) and butter, plus an egg as extra ($3). I also ordered a yuzu and lychee soda ($7), which was huge, beautifully refreshing and possibly my new favourite drink ever. Now, the ramen was a first for me – I’ve only ever tried ramen with pork, miso or soy broth, but this was a seafood broth, and it was beautiful. It was lighter than the other kinds, although surprisingly rich, particularly with the butter stirred through, and the yuzu in the broth really helped balance it out. The scallop was a little bit chewy, but I’d never had a bearded one before, so that may be usual. The ramen had a perfect amount of bite, and I really liked the mustard greens, which also helped cut through the rich seafoodiness of the broth. The egg, as all ramen eggs are, was perfection, and I saved it until last (although the wanton was a close contender for best bit – soft skin, tasty insides). I will definitely be back!
Chaco Bar, 238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst NSW, http://www.chacobar.com.au/
One of my friends came to visit from Melbourne recently, and we met at Penny University for brunch. I was immediately drawn to the salmon-laden options, and decided to try the ‘Winter Fishing in Yemen’ ($21) and a fresh watermelon, apple and mint juice ($7.5). The dish comprised a freekeh risotto with miso salmon, roast fennel, cherry tomatoes and a 65 degree egg. The serving was huge, and I was impressed by the amount of salmon included – flakey, tender salmon, although to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the miso. The risotto had a fabulous texture, viscous and rich, although I found the whole dish rather salty (perhaps that was the miso’s contribution?), just a shade past the point of enjoyably salty. Fennel isn’t generally my favourite, but it worked really well in this dish, adding some good textural contrast, although the cherry tomatoes kind of stole the show with their charred, sweet pops of flavour. Spinach leaves and red cabbage completed the ensemble, enriched by the perfectly runny egg. The serve was a bit too big for me, and I was glad of the juice to help quench my thirst – enjoyable, but probably not a dish I’d go back for in particular.
Penny University, 15 Kennedy Street, Kingston ACT, http://pennyuniversitycafe.com/
I know I’m behind the crowd on this one – Soi has been dishing up noodles and other delicious things in the city for a while now – I finally stopped in for a weeknight dinner with friends. You order at the counter and I picked the chicken yakiudon ($15) and a cup of genmaicha ($4), my favourite Japanese tea. I’m usually wary of restaurants trying to do too much – the menu has Thai, Japanese, etc. – but the yakiudon was pretty good considering it isn’t a specialty Japanese restaurant. Whilst the vegetables weren’t totally authentic (pumpkin?), the flavour and texture mix worked well – the mushrooms were particularly good. There were plenty of bonito flakes and I really liked the yakiudon sauce – it clung well to the noodles, although was quite salty and left me thirsty. Luckily I ordered the tea – it came in a large mug and was a great example of genmaicha. The restaurant is nicely organised with plenty of seats and a fun mural on the back wall brightening the space. The staff were friendly and efficient, and for the price point, the food was good value and tasty.
Soi Noodle Bar, Shop EG08, Bunda Street, Civic ACT, http://www.soinoodlebar.com.au/
Sadly, Akiba don’t offer their $18 Bite and Bolt lunch in December, but that didn’t stop us heading in for a team lunch. We got a tonne of plates to share (yes!), with some particular highlights. Firstly, the bao/bun. We ordered the pork belly bun ($8 each), served with asian slaw (including pickled cucumber, yum!), char sui and kewpie mayonnaise. The pork was fatty and tender, the bun soft and springy, and the slaw plus sauces packed a great flavour punch. Yum. The next highlight was undoubtedly the Shanghai noodles with pickled shiitake mushrooms, garlic and chilli ($13) – the noodles were thick and looked handmade, and the sauce stuck well to them, making each mouthful fabulous. The mushrooms stole the show, though – plump, tart, earthy and garlicky all at once, I’d highly recommend this dish on any Akiba share table. We grabbed a serve of my favourite Japanese Fried Chicken ($20), and then tried the fried rice ($21) – it all tasted like that wonderful part at the bottom of the pan that picks up all the flavour and crispiness. With a large group, the value is excellent – this food is made to share.
Akiba, 40 Bunda Street, Civic ACT, http://www.akiba.com.au/