1. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  2. Photograph: Anna Kucera
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
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4 out of 5 stars

What started in a food court has led to a restaurant with a cult following. If you like your tonkotsu ramen rich and robust, join the queue. Slurp!


Time Out says

It’s 1pm on a blustery winter’s day in Sydney. We’re in Chinatown and we find ourselves hankering for a bowl of hot ramen. As we approach Kimber Lane, we notice a long line of people huddled in the cold outside Gumshara. We take it as a sign and join the fast-moving queue. Our tip? Get here early.

ICYMI, there are four types of ramen based on flavour, consistency and place of origin. Shio from Hakodate is flavoured with salt and is clear and light; shoyu from Tokyo is made using soy sauce and is clear, brown and salty; miso from Sapporo, as the name suggests, is made from miso with a creamy, sweet-salty profile; and tonkotsu from Fukuoka is made from pork bones and is rich and dense.

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While the OG Gumshara held court (pun intended) for 14 years in the Eating World food court before it was demolished, its new iteration is a 40-seater restaurant that opened its doors in late 2023. It’s walk-ins only – no reservations – but service is quick and courteous. Our number is called and we enter a pared-back space with dark interiors and pale wooden countertops. Japanese pop pumps through the speakers while patrons dine at communal tables. The menu is straightforward: ramen, ramen and more ramen. Not a piece of karaage chicken or a platter of gyoza in sight.

If you think ramen is just noodle soup that frugal uni students eat, think again. Gumshara’s co-owner and head chef Mori Hogashida has spent years perfecting his legendary tonkotsu broth. Every day, tons of pork bones are boiled down for around 14 hours until all the collagen-heavy marrow is extracted. The result? A broth so thick, your soup spoon can stand up unaided. Kidding, not kidding. If you like your ramen rich and robust, this is the place to get your fix.

We head to the counter to order, pay, take our ticket, and line up once more to collect our ramen. But first, the condiments. The self-service table tempts us with all sorts of toppings: sliced spring onion, garlic soy sauce, house-made taberu rayu (crunchy garlic chilli oil), pickled ginger, roasted sesame – try one, try them all; they’re on the house. What’s more, if you find the soup too thick, you can help yourself to either the light tonkotsu or light fish soup kept ready and waiting in flasks.

Chopsticks poised and soup spoons ready, we dig in. First up, the garlic tonkotsu ramen. The tender pork belly melts in our mouths and the broth is big on that umami flavour. Bamboo shoots add crunch and the salty nori seaweed is balanced by the sweet corn. The ramen noodles are perfectly cooked with a bit of bite; after all, you don’t want sloppy noods. However, the garlicky goodness we expected is somewhat lacking.

Next, the spare rib tonkotsu. A hefty pork rib sits in a gloriously thick tonkotsu, the unctuous meat falling off the rib bone. It packs a punch in terms of flavour. Our only regret? We should have ordered a spare spare rib (geddit?) to go with all that extra tonkotsu broth. Yum.

This ramen is not for the faint-hearted. It’s rich, it’s delicious, and it’s an explosive spice bomb that’s guaranteed to clear your sinuses with every spoonful

The spicy tonkotsu was the unanimous favourite. This ramen is not for the faint-hearted. It’s rich, it’s delicious, and it’s an explosive spice bomb that’s guaranteed to clear your sinuses with every spoonful – only for you to go back for more. Keep those tissues placed at every table handy; you’ll need ’em.

We need something fizzy to cut through the fatty richness of the ramen. Soft drinks in the form of a Fuji apple juice and a lychee drink are just the ticket. Too much broth? You can ask for extra noodles (kaedama). Egg lovers, be aware that soft-boiled eggs that you usually get at most ramen joints are an optional extra here; we wished we had ordered one for each bowl.

All in all, Gumshara is generous – in portion size and in flavour. Despite our best efforts, we struggle to finish our gigantic serves of ramen. A brisk walk to burn off all those calories is in order. We leave with empty bowls and full stomachs. Oishii desu!

✍️ Time Out Sydney never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

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At the corner of Kimber Ln and Little Hay St
Opening hours:
Mon-Sun 11.30am-3pm; 5-9pm
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