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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Get Ramen in Sydney

From tsukemen to kogashi, these are our favourite bowls of noodles around the city.
By Concrete Playground
March 04, 2020
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Where to Get Ramen in Sydney

From tsukemen to kogashi, these are our favourite bowls of noodles around the city.
By Concrete Playground
March 04, 2020
  shares

WHERE TO GET RAMEN IN SYDNEY

From tsukemen to kogashi, these are our favourite bowls of noodles around the city.

We've farewelled summer for another year, but it hasn't quite started to cool down yet. Luckily, ramen surpasses the seasons — it's the evergreen of lunchtime meals, so you can soothe your cravings all year round. There are heaps of eateries around Sydney serving up this Japanese classic, from staple tonkotsu to the more experimental. You'll find tsukemen at Ramen Zundo, kogashi at Gogyo, along with spicy ramen, vegan ramen and breakfast ramen. 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). Happy slurping.

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    It may have just opened in Sydney in January 2018, but Gogyo is already a well-established ramen chain back home in Japan. The specialty is, of course, the ramen, and one ramen in particular — the kogashi (burnt) variety. Burnt fresh to order, the kogashi ramen is made by cooking lard at extremely high temperatures (over 300 degrees) until the substance turns black and bursts into flames. Miso or soy is then added, followed by Gogyo’s slow-cooked pork broth, then springy noodles, chashu pork belly, nori and half an unami 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, the flavour is rich, smoky and sweet, not bitter or acrid as you may have expected. It’s an intense dish, so if you haven’t tried it before, perhaps share it with a mate — that way you can leave room for some of the other dishes on the menu.

    Image: Julia Sansone.

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    Redfern’s 28-seat izakaya-style eatery takes its design cues from the plethora of Japanese microbreweries and cafes visited by husband and wife team Scott Gault and Katie Shortland. And it shows. Think warm timber accents, a slight industrial edge and full-length windows to capture the noodle-making magic unfolding in the open kitchen. A special pressure cooker is used to nail that full-flavour broth without the 14-hour wait time, 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 three styles of free-range pork tonkotsu, highlighting the kitchen’s nose-to-tail approach, available in shio, black garlic or with smoky, Japanese chilli oil. 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 maze soba — akin to Japanese spag bol, without the mince — plus local cans, Yulli’s Brews on tap and a range of natural wines championing young producers.

    You can also find RaRa at Shop 1/162–164 Barker Street, Randwick.

    Image: Luisa Brimble.

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  • 10

    By day, Gaku serves up steaming bowls of ramen. There are four different types: 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 — they successfully combine their experience making traditional ramen and working at fine dining establishments. The only problem you’ll have with the ramen is getting your hands on a bowl. Only 40 portions are made each day, and they’re not sold takeaway. Meaning, you’ll have to head into the restaurant — a compact, but not overcrowded space on Darlinghurst Road with exposed bricks and wooden details — between 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. Try and get a seat at the bar at night, too — that’s when the bar becomes an innovative izakaya with ingredients and techniques borrowed from across Europe and Asia.

    Images: Trent van der Jagt

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  • 9
    Ichibandori

    Neutral Bay has its fair share of Japanese restaurants, but none are quite like Ichibandori. Although the restaurant has been open on Sydney’s lower north shore for a while, Hideto Suzuki of Manpuku and Tomoyuki Matsuya of HaNa Ju-Rin took it over last year and turned it into a late-night ramen haven. Be prepared for lines snaking out the door of the small 20-seater restaurant. Suzuki — who looks after the ramen side of things — uses the best produce for each bowl, even importing many of the ingredients from Hokkaido. The menu has just a handful of options. There’s the signature ramen — creamy tonkotsu with chashu, pureed apple, enoki mushrooms, broccolini and a soft-boiled egg — as well as a vegan friendly tomato number, a couple of options with premium wagyu beef from Japan, a silky tonkotsu, pepe saya hokkaido and a ramen of the week. A recent special was a creamy sea urchin ramen made with Tasmanian purple uni, fish roe, prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano, a 63-degree egg and lactose-free cream.

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  • 8

    Ichi-ban is a well-known ramen in Sydney 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 some great gyoza, the ramen is the real hero here. The noodles are made fresh and cooked al dente and we recommend the karaage ramen, which is topped with melt-in-your mouth fried chicken. Having said that, their miso ramen is also worth your money, particularly if you only have a $10 note (although, as of just recently, the restaurant does take card). While there are a few Ichi-bans now in Sydney, head to their flagship restaurant at The Galeries for the best.

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    Tinker on your motorbike and slurp your way through bowls of ramen on the same premises at Rising Sun Workshop’s permanent Newtown digs. For the uninitiated, Rising Sun is a social enterprise that serves two purposes. On one hand, it provides its motor-revving members with a communal space for repairing and polishing up their bikes. On the other, it’s a café, serving coffee, cookies and seriously killer ramen. You’ll find Rising Sun’s new workshop on Whateley Street. It used to house a century-old hardware store, so there’s oodles of space. At the same time, the menu has scored a serious upgrade. You can now get 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 types (including a vego option).

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    This global franchise created quite the buzz when it landed on Australian shores — and for good reason. Despite its location inside the Westfield Sydney food court, this particular outpost still achieves the authentic ramen house feel. 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 North Ryde.

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  • 5

    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 that you’ll struggle to make it all the way through. As soon as you step inside the orange ramen house, you’ll feel as if you’re in Japan. With butcher’s paper decorated with kanji adorning the walls and with good luck cats scattered everywhere you turn, it makes your meal feel much more authentic when it arrives. There are a number of pork and chicken broths to choose from, but there is no going 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. Just make sure that you leave as soon as you’re finished, else you’ll feel the ire of those queuing outside. While the Crows Nest location is the OG, there’s also a location in Bondi Junction if you’re based south-side.

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  • 4

    Seventy-two hours is the time it takes husband and wife owners Takumi and Miki Marui to prepare the pork ramen ($15) at their beloved home-style Japanese restaurant. Why? Because it tastes better. The sliced chashu is smoky, the broth is rich, but not too rich that you won’t finish the bowl (which is their intention), the noodles perfectly chewy and the marinated soft-boiled egg makes it a ten out of ten dish. But that’s not the only reason why locals adore this small Canterbury Road eatery. People come here for the quality of food and the ever-changing daily specials that range from tuna belly to sea urchin. It’s certainly up there with the best of them, but you’d never know it from its humble appearance. It’s well-hidden behind a skinny roller door by day on one of Sydney’s busiest roads — you’d walk straight past it if it weren’t for the lights illuminating the full house on any given night of the week.

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  • 3

    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 makes for a promising start to the evening. The restaurant’s name, Chaco Ramen, comes from the word charcoal, and while the Darlinghurst restaurant used to specialise in grilled yakitori, only serving ramen for lunch and one night a week, now it’s all ramen all the time. The ramen comes in five different variations: fat soy, fish salt, yuzu scallop and prawn or chilli coriander. There’s also the option of gluten free noodles, bone marrow curry or extra toppings like Hokkaido scallops, wantons and spicy miso.

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    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 have yourself a bowl of ramen quite unlike any you’ve had before, with a thick and salty broth that goes down surprisingly well.

    The menu is simple, with two of the dishes being rice-based and the rest being soup-based. Try the tonkotsu ramen, served with slices of pork and seaweed in the aforementioned broth, which is so thick, it’s practically gravy. The simple ingredients mingle well with each other and result in a flavour which is unique yet classic. 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 many a penny-pincher.

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  • 1

    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 — pork broth boiled over 12 hours to create a delicious ramen you’ll keep coming back for, with pork belly that melts in your mouth like it should. Spice it up and go for the extra chilli kick by ordering the Rich Zundo Red for a full flavour hit. 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.

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Top image: Gaku by Trent van der Jagt. 

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