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Parco Ramen

  • Restaurants
  • Moonee Ponds
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A lobstery twist on the fan favourite, Parco Ramen is warming bellies and breaking porcine traditions

After the gruelling impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the success of a lockdown pop-up is something to be celebrated – even more so when it graduates into a bricks-and-mortar store. ‘Parco Project’, a collaborative pop-up that ran out of Elizabeth Street's Shujinko was the brainchild of chefs Frederico Congiu (Stasio Di Citta) and Manato Deleon (Shujinko). Now, permanent Parco in Moonee Ponds is the culmination of passion and perseverance, with a dash of ingenuity.

Ramen is a beloved dish in Melbourne, but the Japanese noodle-based soup dish is often the cause of contention – every Melbournite worth their North Face thinks they know the best joint in town. Menus are interchangeable, usually revolving around a tonkotsu (pork) or chicken base. Traditionalists prefer it this way, and scoff at radical changes to the main four flavour profiles (salt, soy, pork and miso). However, like New York chef Ivan Orkin's revolutionary addition of tomato, a lot of ramen chefs actually consider ramen to be a 'tradition-free zone'.

Sitting only 19 at a time, Parco's warm and densely packed atmosphere often attracts queues of hungry patrons. The seats are highly coveted for one reason in particular – the lobster ramen. Cooked for over eight hours, servings of this soup are limited. The broth is recognisably tonkotsu-thick, but unconventionally built from crustacean bisque. It's delicately sweet, with a concentrated seafood flavour that's enhanced by the undertone of smokey char.

The noodles are perfectly springy and slurpable, most likely due to the fact they are hand-made daily. Topped with the usual suspects of a gooey dashi egg and bamboo shoots, there are also the welcome addition of seasonal greens. A large, charred Moreton bug tail lays temptingly on the surface of the soup. Its flesh is firm and sweet, with a richer, more pronounced flavour than its prawny cousins. Although the soup is viscous and comforting, it's paradoxically light in the belly, as this soup has been thickened with cornstarch as opposed to the usual collagen of tonkotsu. This makes for a less salty (but equally satisfying) bowl of ramen goodness. Other unique soupy offerings include a yuzu (a Japanese citrus) ramen, and a truffle and shitake number – along with vegan options for those veggie inclined.

Sides are classic ramen accompaniments including gyoza (fried dumplings) and fried chicken. Alternatively, the takoyaki make for the perfect ramen prelude. The ball-shaped Osakan street food are crispy on the outside and deliciously gooey on the inside, with a surprise octopus tentacle in each one to provide a rewarding chew. They’re topped with kewpie mayo and a sweet brown sauce, along with quivering bonito flakes. This is prime draft beer territory, however, you’ll need to BYO as the venue does not currently have a liquor licence. Other dishes available are gohan dons (cooked rice bowls) which come in a variety of toppings.

Service is remarkably efficient and tailored considering the high volume and turnover of customers. It has a cosy, modern fit-out with neon lights and mostly bar seating. This is not the most traditional of venue or food, however Melbourne has an abundance of those. So come to Parco for a fresh take on a ubiquitous favourite – done with respect and a healthy dose of fun.

Written by
Emily Morrison


17A Hall St, Moonee Ponds
Opening hours:
Tuesday - Sunday, 12pm-3pm & 5pm - 9pm
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