Russell Street isn't shy of neon-hued, small eateries boasting soups, noodles and dumplings – and those with all three on the menu – but Shujinko is easily one of its best. Known for its expansive opening hours and a favourite with late-night soup-seekers, Shujinko is a goldmine of Tokyo-style ramen, dishing up steaming bowls to those wanting a quick meal – which is, seemingly, a lot of Melbourne. Surely at one point or another you've either squeezed past the long queue always lined up resolutely outside the place, or joined on the end of it. There's been many a time when you could barely get in at all without setting up camp for half an hour or more: the place is ever-popular, day and night, with those wanting a hot bowl of goodness for under $15.
Any wait in the cold is well warranted, because the ramen will have you crying chargrilled pork-flavoured tears of joy — the bowl is big, the pork belly smoky, the broth thick and your stomach happy. There's a variety of ramen available, as well as other Japanese favourites like gyoza ($8.50), takoyaki ($10.50) and karaage ($9.50), but there's no beating the traditional Shujinko Ramen ($15.50). Drinks-wise, you're looking at Japanese beers (Kirin, Asahi) or sake, washing down that bowl of warming pork broth with another nod to Tokyo. Take a scarf and prepare to wait it out – there's no going back to packet noodle soup after this.
Images: Julia Kingma, Visit Victoria
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