In one of Sydney's main thoroughfares, where Oxford Street meets Crown amid a flurry of quick-fix fast-food, clubs, pubs and bottle shops, lives this surprisingly authentic Japanese experience.
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, 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.
Images: Letícia Almeida.