Regent Place tucked just behind George Street in the CBD has certainly received a revitalisation in recent years. Small bar Assembly has moved in along with Senyai, rice paper roll experts MissChu and the Japanese matcha café Chanoma. It has breathed life into a section of George Street which was lacking in decent food and drink options.
Ramen house Tenkomori has joined its Asian counterparts on the ground floor of the complex. From the owners who brought us Menya Mappen just a few doors down and Menya Noodle Bar, Tenkomori resembles a cafeteria-style eatery but instead of serving burgers and chips, it dishes out ramen noodles, karaage chicken and other fried Japanese fare.
This is how Tenkomori works: line up at the counter and order your ramen, grab a plate and select some fried sides such as tofu, chicken and prawn. Move along the assembly line and pick up a miso soup while you're at it. At the very end you pay whilst your noodles are being made in front of your eyes. It's really a fool-proof system and means the restaurant can process orders quickly and efficiently. Tables turn over quickly too as diners slurp down their noodles and leave.
Make no mistake, ramen is king at Tenkomori. Every kind of ramen dish comes in three types of broth: shoyu, miso and tonkotsu. The pork kakuni ramen with tonkotsu broth ($7.30) is certainly indulgent. The pork belly falls apart at the slightest pressure with the spoon and when slurped down with noodles and the soup, you just can't wait for the next spoonful. If you want egg, pickled mustard green and bamboo that'll be an extra $2.50. Pick up a piece of karaage chicken for $2 a pop, or fried tofu for $1.50 and although they are both deep-fried, they're not dripping in oil. The kaarage chicken bowl ($4.50) has fried chicken sitting on top of rice, with generous lashings of Japanese mayo. If you don't feel like a noodle soup, try the Ontama chilli pork ($8.90) with a choice of hot or cold ramen, chilli pork, bean sprout and topped with an egg. It's fresh and packs a punch with the chilli.
The pace at Tenkomori is fast and the food is decent. Will it become as iconic as Ryo's in North Sydney or Gumshara in Chinatown? Probably not, but crowds are sure to flock to Tenkomori for a cheap fix of noodles and deep-fried goodness. If you hand over a $10 note you might even pick up some change, and this will definitely bring people back.