Japanese ramen. For me it’s perfection in a bowl. One unforgettable meal boiled down to its bare essentials. Hot soup packed with more flavour than you can dream of, acidity from pickles, damn good noodles, slices of pork that melt in your mouth and the small mound of spring onions. Then there is the soft boild egg.
Brisbane has, in my opinion 2 of the best ramen places I have tried in Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). Recently in Melbourne there has been a craze over izakaya, yakitori and anything with a South American name attached to it (even if it taste bad). There just hasn’t been enough authentic, traditional and not over-priced Japanese food in Melbourne. What happend to the one shop-one dish mentality? Do we always need to put a wine glass on top of every meal? Here are 2 new additions to the Japanese noodle-ness in Melbourne.
Kokoro Ramen on Lonsdale st in the Melbourne CBD comes pretty close to Ramen Ya. The ramen from Kokoro is thin, the soup is good (once was not hot), egg is perfect but the pork lacked finesse – like a bad ringtone stabbing though a music concert. There are too many iterations of the same thing and that also frustrates me. Serve up a handful of dishes well and leave it alone! I would probably still put Ramen Ya just ahead, but Kokoro seems to have all the right intention – and plenty of potential.
Very recently, Nama Nama opened up serving their specialty: hand made udon in a dashi broth (Kento style). Opened up last month by the people from Izakaya Den. The fit out is a blend of modern and street (glass and concrete plus stools and drink cartons as table holders. I tried their udon with the pork. The soup was the most flavourful dashi broth (plus soy) – so much depth to it. If you wonder why people fuss about a good dashi then try this. Udon was nice, chewy and well cooked. An addition of a small quail egg was a nice touch. The pork was very well cooked (probably sous vide) and melted in my mouth. At $15 – a touch more expensive than the going rate in the city (to sit on a stool).