Masterpiece or monstrosity? Sensation or abomination? Sydney's latest frankenfood, the ramen burger, has divided the nation, or the Night Noodle Markets at the very least. After three years of being a festival favourite, creator and evil genius David Yip decided it was time to give the ramen burger a permanent home, so he opened Japanese fusion restaurant and bar One Tea Lounge and Grill on York Street.
As one may expect from the home of the ramen burger, One Tea Lounge is an eccentric sort of place, with casual lounge chairs and coloured disco lights that make it feel a bit like a karaoke bar or a pumping youth hostel.
Now back to the Ramen Burger, which is why you're all here. Instead of buns, the ramen burger ($13.80) uses two ramen soup-infused noodle cakes, which are moist on the inside and beautifully burnished outside, reminiscent of the delicious crunchy noodles that stick to the bottom of the pan. Inside are your classic burger ingredients: a succulent wagyu beef patty, iceberg lettuce, tomato and a squeeze of kewpie mayonnaise. I can see the appeal and the flavours work, but let's be frank, burgers need bread. I'm also struggling to see the similarity to a steaming hot bowl of Japanese soup. Bring on an egg, a sheet of seaweed and some barbecue pork and I would definitely get on board.
The ramen burger isn't the only menu item that flaunts convention. One Tea Lounge also serves a rice burger ($13.80) and Nagoya-style chicken "lollypops" ($12). There's also a staggering amount of dishes that have been infused with premium matcha green tea, from cocktails to burger buns, hollandaise, mayonnaise, chocolate sauce — it's all green. Even the fries are sprinkled in green tea salt. I'm not sure how matcha more I can handle.
While the Ramen Burger is hogging the limelight, a more deserving ice-cream burger sits in the shadows. The ice cream sliders ($13) come in pairs, so I try a lychee and black sesame, which are topped with red bean paste and sandwiched between piping hot Asian doughnuts. It's actually incredible. It might not have the catchiest name in the joint, but I know which burger I'm coming back for.