Ramen. It’s probably one of the most fiercely debated subjects on the Twittersphere: who does Sydney’s best ramen? It’s a question that plagues chefs, bloggers, journalists and Japanese soup noodle fans city over.
Some say it’s all about Ichi Ban Boshi – the ramen place next to Kinokuniya (incidentally, the place to buy comic books while waiting for said ramen). We’re also fans of Komachi in Surry Hills where you get a huge bowl of soup (two whole litres of miso, let alone the pork and noodles) and if you can eat the entire thing, you go on the wall of fame and eat for free. And they play the Rocky theme as you eat.
The thing is, there are so many variations. Do you like a simple miso broth, or salty, salty shio? Maybe, as a dedicated pork freak, you go for a tonkotsu soup base. Do you take extra butter and corn on the top, or a flavoured hard-boiled egg? Maybe you keep it tidy with a few slices of pork and some green onion. Perhaps you favour an extra serve of noodles on the side. At any rate, here are some of Time Out’s favourites:
At Salaryman ramen has been elevated to an art form. Take the cabbage and mushroom ramen bowl. It’s a symphony of veggies each cooked perfectly, including crunchy pickled turnips, charred broccolini and crushy disks of radish. This isn't a second-rate vegetarian version of a dish popular dish, it's a standout, even for meat-eaters.
Tonkotsu ramen is the king of Japanese soups: bouncy, silky smooth noodles enrobed in thick, gelatinous pork bone broth. It’s also tonic in a bowl: it’ll cure a cold, a hangover… maybe even hay fever! (It’s worth a shot, right?) You can get your hands on some of the good stuff at Ramen O San, located in the food court at Chinatown’s Dixon House.
The breakfast ramen at RSW is such a good idea that our heads hurt a little from the excitement. It’s a beautiful big bowl of rich, fatty broth made from an infusion of buttered toast, topped with stretchy, firm noodles made exclusively for Rising Sun Workshop to their own recipe. The whole lot is topped with a just-set onsen egg, shards of crisp bacon and a charred tomato – the savoury, umami depth of which is a strike of pure genius.
Haru Inukai, the chef who opened French-Japanese fusion restaurant BlancHaru, is the man behind the noodles, which are all handmade on site. And, one for all you ‘I want my damn value’ freaks out there, they’ll give you another serve of noodles for free if you have leftover broth. Just take your bowl with the soup-proof to the counter and ask for ‘kaedama’.
These guys have had a lot of press and for good reason. Their tonkotsu broth, like washing your mouth with pork shampoo, is rich and unctuous. The noodles are firm yet yielding and there’s always the opportunity to pimp your lunch with garlic chips, flavoured eggs and even (you crazy devils) more pork.
Japanese food fits into the Sydney climate like soybeans fit into their little pods. And so it’s good that, thanks to all of the incredible Japanese chefs gracing our shores, we know how to do it right. From the sushi roll lunch-run to the full sashimi-laden dego, here’s where to do Japanese in Sydney.
Although during summer soup for lunch might not make much sense, Sydney does get pretty cold come June. And when you’re in the midst of the working day, there is nothing more comforting that a bowl of steaming-hot soup to warm your cockles and help you power through the afternoon. Here are our favourite soups in the city right now.