Melbourne’s best ramen joints
Once you have tried ramen and gyoza in Japan you will discover this inner ramen-addict that you never knew existed. Since coming home to Melbourne I have been desperately craving a soothing bowl of hot delicious ramen and perfectly crispy and juicy gyoza dumplings. Over the past few months I have made it my mission to try to find the best places to feast. Luckily ramen is the ‘on trend’ thing to eat in Melbourne currently so there are plenty of joints including it on their menu.
I’ve been desperately searching for a ramen in Melbourne that would be a worthy substitute for a bowl in downtown Tokyo.
Dosanko with Toritetsu
Dosanko with Toritetsu, is a well rounded option- great ramen and excellent gyoza located at the top of Chinatown. Since discovering it one cold winters night I have become a regular eater of their delicious Ramen Miso Deluxe.
The most crucial element that makes this ramen stand well above all others is the fragrant, delicate and well balanced broth which is both soothing and flavourful. I always judge a bowl by the broth. If I can happily eat only the broth (many other places make un-note worthy broth) then it is truly a wonderful dish. The dish comes pilled with noodles topped with succulent pork belly slices, cold cooked mince pork, corn, mushrooms and spring onions. On every table there is plenty of condiments- sesame seeds, chilli oil, soy sauce and other Japanese flavourings, so that you can personalise your bowl to your taste.
The gyoza are like tradition dictates made with cabbage and pork mince. Their dough is perfectly thin and fried to perfection so that you have a crispy base, soft skin and juicy inner meat. The gyoza are well seasoned with soy and ginger. They are the most spot on side dish to have with your ramen.
This restaurant also has a wide ranging menu specialising in ramen and yakitori, although its menu features many rice and noodle dishes.
Their alcohol menu is also well thought out. They have cold Asahi on tap as well as many different plum wines and a wide range of sake.
For a substantially filling and delicious meal this is the one place I regularly visit and look forward to going back to.
Another worthy addition to this list is the Pork Tonkotsu ramen served at Tokyo Tina. This new Japanese fusion restaurant joins it sibling restaurants – Saigon Sally and Hanoi Hannah- in the trendy Windsor end of Chapel St. Locals and foodies flock here for their array of fusion inspired dishes including ceviche, pork and kim chi gyoza and pork belly bao.
They have an array of ramens available, including chicken, miso and an ashed, but it is the classic Tonkotsu based ramen that drew me here.
Served in a delightful patterned bowl this ramen featured a delicious light broth, served along thin ramen noodles (cooked to perfection so they still retain their bite), spring onions, pickled red onion, sheets of nori seaweed, perfect slivers of pork belly and a 63 degree boiled egg. What made this ramen excellent was the pickled onion which perfectly counteracted the richness of the pork. I prefer my eggs to be slightly firmer as the 63deg egg broke easily and the yolk made the dish too rich for my liking.
Update: I went here again during the past week for a refresher bowl and noticed that they had changed their menu. The tonkotsu ramen has been replaced with a spicy Pork styled one. I much preferred the original. The new ramen featured a creamy spicy broth, slices of pork, corn, green onions and seaweed. I felt that the spicy broth overpowered the other elements, however the noodles were still perfectly cooked.
Menya Sandaime- or as the locals call it ‘the 24 hour ramen place’.
Ramen popularity has hit fever pitch in Melbourne. One very smart business has opened up serving Ramen all night long. This restaurant located on the outskirts of the city’s China town serves big bowls of the good stuff all night every night. Whether it be for an early dinner at 4pm or post drinking bite at 2am this place will happily invite you in with shouting welcomes from the kitchen. Considering that they are open all night long, the quality of the broth is surprising. It’s delicious. Don’t come here expecting a traditional tonkatusu broth, this one is rich and spiked with strong notes of garlic and sesame. The cloudy broth is spooned ontop of a generous portion of thin ramen noodles. What I like about this place its that you can order the noodle additions that you’d like- I always order it with added chinese broccoli and succulent pork slices. Combine that with a generous helping of spring onions you have a winner of a dish. After many late nights spent devouring bowls here it’s become my go-to place for ramen.
I’ve also ordered the gyoza dumplings here a few times and had hit-and-miss reactions. In its early days they served gyozas that were clearly not made on site- they didnt retain their freshness and juicyness. However recently I noticed a significant improvement in the texture and taste, with thinner wrappers and more juicy, generous contents. Clearly making them fresh by one of their chefs was a huge success.
$11 for an single bowl. Extras from $1.50-3.00. Dumplings $4.80.
Ramen Ya is another local favourite popular for serving Japanese food. This beautifully decorated and comfortable restaurant features an impressive menu featuring hot pots, shabu shabu, curry and donburi dishes (rich with toppings). The ramen here is a solid choice, however I found the very cloudy broth to be less flavourful than other places. The noodles were delicious and perfectly cooked. Accompanying them were a half boiled egg, spring onions, fish cake and bamboo stems. Although I really enjoyed the noodles it was a disappointing ramen. I wanted strong flavour with every mouthful, but instead got spot on noodles with a warm soothing but ultimately flavourless broth.
The saving grace here are the gyoza dumplings which have crispy bottoms and juicy fillings. I ended up ordering an additional plate of them!
The Little Ramen Bar
The Little Ramen Bar has been recommended to me many times by friends who know how addicted I am to ramen. Due to this I had very high hopes, which unfortunately didn’t live up to expectation. I had hoped for a delicious well rounded broth with al-dente noodles and toppings. I order the standard Tonkonstu ramen with a boiled egg and a cheeky addition of corn (my favourite!)
Although the broth (I ordered the shoyu – a special soy base) and the noodles were spot on I felt that the shredded nori seaweed completely overpowered a dish that is so delicately balanced. If I was to return I’d ask for no nori. The gyoza however were excellent.
As you can see there is a growing trend in Melbourne with places popping up serving delicious ramen. You’re sure to find something that will suit your tastes. Enjoy!