Ramen; it's food for the soul, and it doesn't get much soul-ier than what you'll find at Takapuna's newest eatery, Ramen Lab. But how does it stack up against our list of the best ramen joints across the city?
Opened by former mechanic-turned-ramen master Mitsuhiro Tozaki, Ramen Lab has a core focus of using New Zealand grown produce and free range goods, something that makes its self apparent upon the first mouthful. You'll find multiple varieties of the noodle soup on the menu, including traditional Tonkotsu ramen from Hakata, Shoyu ramen from Toyko, miso ramen from Sapporo and the Japanese-Chinese hybrid, Tantan.
On receiving my order of Tonkotsu ($12) with an extra molten egg ($2), the bowl is near overflowing, though the serving size is perhaps a tad smaller than what you'd find elsewhere. They definitely make up for it in flavour and freshness. The Tonkotsu is the most popular option courtesy of its low price point and the bonus that you get a free serving of luminous pickled ginger. The broth is immense and probably the porkiest I've tasted in my ramen adventures. Said broth richness reveals that it's probably been simmering backstage for a good couple of days.
The chashu pork is ridiculously tender, falling away as you pick it up and disappearing into nothingness as it touches your mouth; you'll eventually find some more glorious bits of pork floating on the bottom. Add to that the remaining ginger, finely sliced spring onion and cloud ear mushrooms. As per usual ramen encounter it will leave you feeling all warm and content, sinuses clear, and with red hot lips from slurping up all those piping hot noodles. If you're dealing with a mammoth appetite, an extra half or full portion of noodles can be added for $2/$3; how you're going to fit them in the already brimming bowl is another issue altogether.
Despite being called Ramen Lab, the eatery also serves some Japanese classics, including: donburi ($10 - 11), karaage chicken ($12) and four styles of gyoza dumplings ($6 - 9). If they're half as good as the ramen then Ramen Lab may just peak in as a contender for the best Japanese in Takapuna.