It may be a new name on the Sydney dining scene, 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.
For those thinking, "whoa, hold up, I can burn my own dinner at home thank you very much", let me assure you — there's much skill to the Gogyo method. Burnt fresh to order, the kogashi ramen ($18) 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 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.
Despite the celebrity status of the burnt ramen, Gogyo isn't a one-hit-wonder. There are plenty of other impressive dishes on the a la carte menu. We love the goma kingfish sashimi ($22), which gets a spicy shake-up with the fresh fish bathed in a peppery marinade of Japanese tahini, red shiso and shichimi spice. Other highlights include the nasu dengaku ($12.50) — miso-glazed eggplant — which has crunchy charred edges in place of the usual caramelisation; and the wagyu flank ($32) doused in shiso butter and seared to perfection on the robata grill.
Unlike many other ramen chains in Sydney, Gogyo isn't your usual wobbly-chaired slurp-and-dash lunch spot. Rather it's a well-dressed, contemporary space fitted out with exposed brick and concrete, timber detailing and moody lighting. It's the kind of place that screams ~date night~.
The room features private and communal dining spaces, as well as counter spots and a dedicated bar, which serves up Japanese cocktails, beer, sake, whiskey and wine. From the drinks list, we recommend trying one of the fruit wines (kajitsushu). A stand-out is the Uzenshiraume Umeyusui sake-based plum wine ($12) which has sweet apricot and honey flavours (and tastes a a bit like a rice-spiked botrytis sémillon).
Gogyo Surry Hills marks the fifth outpost for the Tokyo-based ramen chain, and, right now, it's the only one in the world without lines out the door. We can tell you one thing: it won't stay that way for long.