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/
Dear Ippudo, it has been a while, but I’m back. I’ve missed you, so rather than getting straight into the ramen, we started with a plate of the sesame cucumber, which was sliced and dusted with sesame, chilli and a delicious oil that probably isn’t good for you but which was incredibly tasty. I mean, how do you make cucumber taste that good? I’ll definitely come back for that one. I decided to try your Akamaru Shinaji ($16) ramen – your original tonkotsu broth was beautifully rich and fatty, with that tongue-coating thickness from the garlic oil and miso paste. The thin slices of pork belly were tender, and each bite of spring onion lifted the pork into extra-deliciousness. I had a moment of panic when I realised my favourite part of ramen was missing – what, no egg? – but you had me covered, it’s easy to order as a side ($2). Oh and the noodles were cooked nice and bitey, just the way I like them. Washed down with a glass of hot umeshu (plum wine), the whole meal was a delight. Let’s do this again sometime soon. Cheers, Sharon
Ippudo, The District, 436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood NSW, http://www.ippudo.com.au/
Gumshara is a happy place for me. Not because of the ambiance, or the décor, or the service; Gumshara is pure bliss for the taste buds. I know I’ve said it before, but this really is the best ramen in Australia. I ordered the tonkotsu ramen with a ramen egg, which is ready in a flash and served in a humungous bowl. There are two things that make Gumshara the best. One: the noodles. The ramen here have such great bite – it’s really very satisfying eating them, almost like the most perfect al dente pasta. Two: the broth. Ok, so this isn’t going to do your cholesterol any good, but who can resist a rich, thick, fatty, salty pork-bone broth in winter? Not me. The broth has a way of coating your mouth, like a layer of porky velvet. Mmm. The pork slices are tender and fatty, and I always like to add a sprinkling of sesame seeds for extra flavour. As always, the ramen eggs are the best, with the gooey, runny yolks and marinated whites that I can’t get enough of.
Gumshara Ramen, Shop 211, 25-29 Dixon Street, Haymarket NSW, no website.
My first stop after picking my bags from the luggage carousel in Adelaide was Ryo’s Noodles. Yep, not even kidding. Last time, Mum gave me massive order envy with her miso ramen, so that’s what we both picked this time. Ryo’s is unusual for a ramen restaurant in that you can request your serve to be salt reduced, which we both did. The star of this ramen is the broth – the miso flavour just adds a lovely richness to the already complex broth, which only tastes better the more you eat. I found myself wishing for a second stomach in order to have more! The pork is beautifully tender and not overly fatty, although I would have liked another slice. The spring onion and bamboo shoots are great textural elements, and the ramen noodles themselves have a great amount of bite, making them a real delight to eat. The bowl actually has a very generous serve of noodles, and I was very full by the end of my meal. We had cups of green tea with the food, which come with free refills – the tea was simple and a nice complement to the ramen. See you on my next visit, Ryo’s!
Ryo’s Noodles, 80 Gouger Street, Adelaide SA
There are quite a few restaurants around the Hamamatsucho JR station, but many of them are designed for quick churn (i.e. standing restaurants/izakayas). We were quite tired after a day of sightseeing so ended up picking Onomichi Ramen, as it had seats. Sure, the decor is nothing special, and it has a lingering smell of cigarette smoke, but once you’ve received your giant bowl of ramen those things fade into the background. I ordered the standard soy ramen and added on all the extras – pork and egg. They offer table service, and brought out edamame for us to start. The ramen didn’t take long (so a good spot if you’re really hungry!) and the broth looked rich and fatty. Research after the meal explained that Onomichi ramen is the local specialty of Onomichi, near Hiroshima, and uses a typical soy broth with added fish paste and melted lard. Whilst that may not sound appetising, I promise you, it was delicious, and if I’d had room to finish the bowl I would have. The pork was thick and tender, the egg gooey in the centre and the ramen had a great amount of bite. Yum, yum, yum.
Onomichi Ramen, Chome-30-11, Hamamatsucho, Minato, Tokyo Japan
I was very excited to see that Ryo’s Noodles had opened in Adelaide – the more ramen available the better, in my books! We ordered the lunch special, $19.90 for a bowl of ramen, a side (we chose gyoza) and a cup of green tea, either hot or cold. For my ramen, I chose number 6 – a Tokyo-style soy broth with roast pork and all the trimmings, while Mum picked the miso broth with roast pork. Dad opted for the karaage (spicy fried chicken) and tempura prawns,both of which were lovely and crisp, and we started with a bowl of edamame, served hot, to share. Our food didn’t take long to come out and it became clear very quickly that Mum had ordered the pick of the bunch – the miso broth (with reduced salt on request) was beautifully complex, with a rich, glossy flavour. Mmm. My Tokyo ramen broth tasted a bit weak in comparison, but if you prefer lighter broths then this is the one for you. The noodles had a great amount of bite and the roast pork was lovely and tender – as always, the tamago was the highlight. Oh yes, I will be back!
Ryo’s Noodles, 80 Gouger Street, Adelaide SA
Newtown is known for its Thai food, but sometimes you just want ramen. Zu Zu Zu appears to have opened recently and was there in time to meet my ramen craving. I was curious about their black sesame broth, something I haven’t tried before, so ordered that along with gyoza and edamame to share. The edamame were served hot and salted – we devoured them happily. The gyoza were excellent too – pan-fried with a herbed pork filling, although perhaps slightly on the small side. The ramen came out in a giant bowl and the broth had an interesting colour. On first sip, I was a bit surprised – yes, the black sesame flavour was there, but it lacked the complexity and depth of your usual ramen broth. I still enjoyed it, but would probably stick to the tonkotsu next time. Having said that, the teriyaki chicken inside was to die for – perfectly tender and slathered in an amazing teriyaki sauce. The ramen themselves were quite thin and didn’t seem housemade (please correct me if you know differently?), but the tamago was (as always) the best bit. I couldn’t finish my bowl, but I did enjoy the meal overall.
Zu Zu Zu, 191 King Street, Newtown NSW, no website