The Best Places to Get Ramen in Sydney
From tsukemen to kogashi, these are our favourite bowls of noodles around the city.
THE BEST PLACES TO GET RAMEN IN SYDNEY
From tsukemen to kogashi, these are our favourite bowls of noodles around the city.
Ramen is a soup for all seasons, an evergreen option for solo lunches, dinner dates or - hell, if you can find a noodle shop that does early hours - a bowl for breakfast. There's an increasing selection of joints around Sydney serving up this Japanese wonder-soup, from reliable chainstore staples to the more experimental variations. While we're dedicated ramen enthusiasts, this is by no means an all-encompassing list — it's a wrap-up of quality broths, office favourites and interesting bowls that are some of the best ramen in Sydney (on both sides of the bridge). Slurp on, noodle fans.
Gogyo is a well-established ramen chain in Japan which specialises in one ramen in particular — the kogashi (burnt) variety. So what exactly does ‘burnt’ mean? Well, the kogashi ramen is made by cooking lard at extremely high temperatures (over 300 degrees) until the substance turns black and bursts into flames. Flaming fat? Delicious! Miso or soy is then added, followed by Gogyo’s slow-cooked pork broth generously dunked with springy noodles, chashu pork belly, nori and half an umami egg. By the time it reaches the table, the ramen is resting at a comfortable 80 degrees. As for the taste, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever had before. The scorched soup is thick with oil and swirling with thousands of charred black flecks and the flavour is rich, smoky and sweet (not bitter or carcinogenic). It’s an intense dish, so if you haven’t tried it before, share it with a mate — that way you can leave room for some of the other dishes on the menu.
Image: Julia Sansone.
Redfern’s izakaya-style eatery takes its design cues from the vibey Japanese microbreweries and cafes visited by husband and wife team Scott Gault and Katie Shortland. Think warm timber accents, a slight industrial edge and full-length windows to capture the noodle-making magic unfolding in the open kitchen. The Redfern shop is the original RaRa site, which has since expanded to locations in Randwick, Eveleigh and an all-vegan outpost in Newtown. A special pressure cooker is used to nail the I-can’t-believe-how-good-this-is broth, and noodles are made fresh each morning with a 380-kilogram Yamoto machine that’s been shipped in from Japan. On the menu, you’ll find four styles of free-range pork tonkotsu, highlighting the kitchen’s nose-to-tail approach, available in shio, black garlic, with smoky, Japanese chilli oil or the double-whammy of black garlic and chilli. The vegetarian ramen comes in either a vegan shio or a miso style, with soy milk lending a flavour reminiscent of pork. There’s also a soupless noodle dish called mazeman — akin to Japanese spag bol with delicately spiced free range pork mince. Nothing complements ramen better than beer, so choose from a selection of local tins, Yulli’s Brews on tap and a range of natural wines championing young producers.
Image: Luisa Brimble.
The name Chaco Ramen comes from the word charcoal, a reference to the exceptional grilled yakitori this Darlinghurst restaurant formerly offered once the sun goes down. Since then, owner Keita Abe opened a dedicated yakitori offering in Potts Point at Chaco Bar, so here they can do all ramen all the time. The ramen comes in six different variations: fat soy, fish salt, yuzu scallop, vegetarian, chilli coriander, and a tomato truffle ramen that’s served cold. There’s also the option of gluten free noodles, bone marrow curry or extra toppings like Hokkaido scallops, wontons and spicy miso. Chaco Ramen feels more intimate than small. The use of natural timbers and earthy shades creates warmth, while fanciful drop lights cast a welcome glow. The room is divided by a communal table which sits adjacent to an exposed kitchen gallery, where inside, the smells and sounds of meat against coals will trigger an ASMR response from hardcore ramen fans.
In the evenings, Gaku is all about Japanese culinary creations with a focus on technique and open flame cooking, but by day their cup overfloweth with steaming bowls of ramen. There are eight variations that include a yuzu-spiked duck broth with smoked duck and duck meatballs, a seafood bowl with salty clam consommé and poached clams and a chicken tonkotsu with pork char siu served standard or spicy. Sydney has no shortage of ramen, but Gaku makes it unlike anywhere else in the city. Chefs Haru Inukai (owner of the now-closed Sussex Centre Ramen Ikkyu and Elizabeth Bay’s BlancHaru) and Shimon Hanakura (ex-Aria) add modern twists to the dishes without sacrificing technique, bringing their experience making traditional ramen and fine dining credentials to the fore. The only problem you’ll have is getting your hands on a bowl. Only 40 portions are made each day so turn up early to the restaurant — a compact, but not overcrowded space on Darlinghurst Road with exposed bricks and wooden details — to secure a spot during their lunch jaunt from midday and 2pm, any day of the week. If you can, grab a seat at the long wooden bar overlooking the kitchen and watch Inukai and Hanakura at work.
Images: Trent van der Jagt
Ichi-ban is a much-loved CBD institution for a reason. It’s cheap, it’s delicious and you have it in front of you just minutes after ordering — which is handy given the queue you can expect at peak times. While there are plenty of options on the menu including great gyoza and okonomiyaki (Osaka-style savoury pancakes), the ramen is an unmissable crowdpleaser. The noodles are made fresh and cooked al dente – a satisfyingly chewy textural experience. We recommend the karaage ramen topped with melt-in-your mouth fried chicken. While there are a few Ichi-bans around Sydney, head to their flagship restaurant at The Galeries for the best.
Here’s the one place in Sydney where you can tinker on your motorbike and slurp your way through bowls of ramen on the same premises. Welcome to Rising Sun Workshop’s Newtown digs. For the uninitiated, Rising Sun is a social enterprise that serves two purposes. On one hand, it provides its members with a communal space for repairing and polishing up their bikes. On the other, it’s a café that serves coffee, cookies and seriously killer ramen. You’ll find Rising Sun’s workshop on Whateley Street in a space that was formerly home to a century-old hardware store so there’s oodles of space. You can get quality nosh at breakfast, lunch and dinner — but its famed ramen is only available in the first half of the day. For breakfast you’ll find a bone broth ramen with bacon, egg, tomato and buttered toast and at lunch you’ll find three different options including a vegetarian choice with a shiitake and sea kelp broth.
This global chain created a big buzz when it landed on Australian shores — and for good reason. For first-timers, the shiromaru — Hakata-style ramen with juicy pork loin, crunchy bean sprouts and silky black mushrooms — is the speciality that put Ippudo at the top of the ramen trade. Add the nitamago, a delicious yet slippery whole flavoured egg, at your own risk. Whatever your ramen preference, order the noodles hard, as recommended — they will keep cooking as you make your way through the bowl, slowly but surely. And while the CBD location is prime for a quick lunchtime meal, you can also find stores in Central Park, Chatswood and Macquarie.
Hiding away in Crows Nest is Ryo’s, a little slice of Tokyo serving ramen as it should be: packed with flavour and in a huge, deep bowl to lovingly gaze upon before emptying it into your pie hole. As soon as you step inside the hole-in-the-wall entry, you’ll feel as if you’re rolling up to a neighbourhood ramen shop in the suburbs of Japan. With butcher’s paper decorated with kanji adorning the walls and good luck cats waving benevolently everywhere you turn, it makes your meal a warming experience from your tastebuds to your very soul. There are a number of pork and chicken broths to choose from, but you can’t go past their famous number eight: ramen in spicy hot chicken soup with roast pork, egg and shallots. To make it even better, add extra garlic and you’ll go away with your lips on fire and your belly full of satisfaction. While the Crows Nest location is the OG, there’s also a location in Bondi Junction that does takeaway too.
The portions are huge in this ramen eatery tucked away in Chinatown’s Eating World. Add to that the fact that the collagen-rich pork broth is produced by boiling over 100 kilograms of pork bones on a daily basis, and you will need to factor in either a nap or a walk to recover from the wonderfully rib-sticking ramen that you’ll experience at Gumshara. Try the tonkotsu ramen, served with slices of pork and seaweed in the aforementioned broth, which is so thick it’s practically gravy. And combined with the low prices and generous portions, there are more than enough reasons for Gumshara to be a staple in the diets of ramen lovers and bargain hunters alike.
Tsukemen is the signature ramen at this cute World Square restaurant. When you order this ramen, two bowls arrive — one containing the noodles, the other containing the extra-thick broth. To eat it, you dip the noodles in the broth then slurp it down (a technique that can take a mouthful or two to perfect). The broth is a richly flavoured tonkotsu soup with pork belly that melts in your mouth like it should. Spice it up and go for the extra chilli kick by ordering it the Spicy soup for a full flavour hit ($17). Alternatively, you can take advantage of the set deal, which lets you order your favourite ramen and add a small donburi on the side, such as a mini karaage don for five bucks. Definitely do that.
Sekka focuses on two main types of ramen broth — chintan (light and clear) and paitan (thick and cloudy) — split across five options: shoyu, shio, tonkotsu, black garlic tonkotsu and a vegan tomato ramen. Each comes topped with classic pork chashu and an umami egg. The tonkotsu varieties are offered in limited quantities and have been selling out each night, so be sure to get in early if you can. To accompany the ramen, there are traditional izakaya snacks like karaage chicken with yuzu-chilli mayo, pork gyoza with house-made XO dipping sauce, smoked edamame and lotus chips. The snacks section also includes two lesser-known seafood dishes: bluefin tuna with soy egg yolk and rice vinegar mackerel with daikon.
Images: Leigh Griffiths
Top image: Gaku by Trent van der Jagt.