Ramen Takara has been Browns Bay’s go-to location for a steamy noodle fix since 2008. Though, the restaurant’s traditions actually stem much further than the seaside suburb, owner and head chef Yuki Yamaguchi takes much of what she knows from her father and his popular restaurant at the foot of Mount Fuji.
The legacy is set to continue with a second chapter popping up across the bridge in Ponsonby - a nice splash of culture to the former panini capital of New Zealand. The new arrival has a slick fit-out, with wooden and industrial materials shaping much of the small dining room. The tables come complete with delicate glass bottles loaded with soy sauce, chilli oil and vinegar. The rear courtyard is home to larger tables and booths that would bode well for a slurp-heavy gathering.
Steamy bowls of ramen are the main attraction to Takara. There are ten very different ramen options on offer, as well as three stir-fried noodle varieties - which actually only equates to a small section of their menu. Noodles are made on-site everyday using local flour and free-range eggs, and the broth - the heart and soul of any ramen - is prepared during a three-hour process each morning. The base broths span a huge range of flavours - soy, cloudy pork, shrimp extract, kombu seaweed, black sesame, miso and sour and spicy - and surprisingly, a decent chunk of the dishes can be made vegetarian on request.
The Wonton Ramen is heavy on the noodles, a seemingly endless supply appear out of the perfectly salty broth. The house-made wontons also have a high dough to meat ratio, making this particular choice a very satisfying one. To round it off, the steamy bowl was topped off with chashu pork, boiled egg, bok choy and bamboo shoots.
The rest of the menu spans large sharing and smaller plates of Japanese classics like karaage chicken, gyoza dumplings (chicken and prawn), teriyaki chicken, beef tataki - which prove to be popular options alongside the alluring pork belly spring rolls, apparently a 40-year-old family recipe.
Pair anything from the menu with a glass of Asahi or Sapporo on tap and you can't go wrong really.