Remember this post?
I had trouble trying to write this epic Ramen post which is why it has taken me so long. Personally, ramen in Melbourne is actually quite disappointing. I was going to change my scores but after some thoughts, I will keep it as it is. This review will be based on the what Melbourne has to offer.
And our ramen adventure began at 11.30am on the 5th of April 2010.
First stop – Menya
Shop 146a 211 Latrobe St Knox Lane, Melbourne Central
Menya was our first stop. It is a very small ramen shop located on the busy footpath corridor area of Melbourne Central. As the place was really tiny, the group was spilt into 2 tables. I had the Menya ramen. Higher marks were given for toppings. I thought it was good value for money at $10.90 and we were served a prawn, a scallop, crab sticks, cuttlefish, an egg and a couple of pieces of chasu. The shoya broth had flavour but was definitely aided by a nice dose of MSG.
Second stop – Hanaichi
QV, Melbourne CBD, Lonsdale Street
(03) 9662 9409
We walked past Hanaichi and @cloudcontrol suggested that we gave it a shot. It was only $6.90. They only have one type of ramen and guess what it’s called. RAMEN. How creative, yah? It was served in one of those big paper cup bowls. Very unattractive. But surprise surprise, the texture of the very yellow noodle was better than Menya! This place did nothing for me. But Maria’s hubby seemed to liked it a lot and gave it 4 for broth and noodle!
I gave this place a very low score and will not recommend it to anyone. If you want a cheap meal, please head over to Don Don instead. Everything failed for me. The toppings was pathetic. Only 2 slices of chasu, a piece of seaweed and loads of spring onions.
Third stop – Edoya
138 Russell St, Melbourne
(03) 9654 7358
Unfortunately Meshiya did not have any ramen that day and so we moved on to Edoya (another impromptu destination). It turned out that they only had Sapporo ramen. We were a little side tracked here and ordered some side dishes and beers! Mister and I quite liked the broth here and some claimed that it tasted a little metallic? I thought the chasu was quite moist and flavourful. Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same. The chasu in the other bowl was strangely a little dry! And personally, I will not recommend the yukke and the julienne onions was totally unnecessary.
Fourth stop – Ito
122 Bourke St, Melbourne
(03) 9663 2788
Still no sign of a good bowl of ramen. Will our next stop, Ito give us a little glimpse of hope? We were excited to see tonkotsu on the menu but alas, it was not available that day. A good tonkotsu does require time and it seems that many choose to stick to miso and shoya instead. We ordered the tonkatsu, tori kari and chasu ramen. They were all reasonably priced at $9.80 a bowl. The noodle here has the best texture and ‘springiness’ so far. The shoya base is definitely the better choice here. We were mostly impressed with the portions of topping served here. It is definitely the best so far.
** Personally, I will recommend the tonkatsu shoya ramen at Ito. The tonkatsu is well battered and had a lovely crunch. I do have a soft spot for a good tonkotsu
Fifth stop – Ajisen
130 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9662 1100
Most of us were definitely feeling the ramen at the point. Ajisen was only a hope and a skip away. Will we make it to the end? There were so many choices on the Ajisen menu. But we settle for 3 very different bowls of ramen. @foodrehab recommended the chargrilled beef shoya ramen. The beef was rather tender and was cooked medium rare. We also decided to try the chef’s recommendation which was spicy pork ramen which is also tagged as 3 chillies. It had a good fatty spicy flavour but was quite stingy on the serve. And we stuck to the usual chasu shoya ramen. The portion was quite generous and was quite tender. I did not mind the chasu ramen here. There is an option for a soft version of the ramen. We made the mistake of not ordering a bowl of that to try. The ramen that was served was a little too undercooked and the team showed it no love.
Sixth stop – Ramen Ya
Shop 25G Melbourne GPO 350 Bourke St, Melbourne
(03) 9654 5838
We were quite excited about our next stop – Ramen Ya. In our opinion, it serves one of the better ramen in Melbourne. And also it seems that it is the only one so far that has a Japanese chef and also the only one that serves the tonkotsu ramen. We ordered another 3 different bowls. It was definitely a league of its own. The best broth so far. The best ramen. And the chasu was definitely the best. Melt-in-the-mouth tender, a real gritty flavour. The only complain that I have is the portion size of the chasu. It is not proportionate to the amount of noodles. I love my pork and will definitely have to order a side dish of chasu to fully enjoy and appreciate this bowl of ramen.
** Recommend the chasu tonkotsu ramen. Just go through the photos and you can see the difference in the colour of this broth. So much more depth and flavour.
After so many bowls of ramen and went we thought we could have no more, some of us decided to have a chocolate break. Well deserved, I reckon.
Seventh and last stop – Chocolate Buddha
Federation Sq 2 Swanston St, Melboourne
(03) 9654 5688
Our last stop was Chocolate Buddha at Federation Square. There were 3 types of ramen here but this was also the most expensive stops. We ordered the 2 out of 3 and left out the one with the fish stock. The beef on the gyu ramen was cooked medium rare. The noodle is very similar to the one at Ramen Ya so we were pretty impressed. The tori miso ramen had a very sweet broth and so did not work too well with some. But the chicken was cooked very well. Very moist and packed with flavour. But at $20 a bowl, it was not good value for money. I guess we were paying for the view. It was great sitting outside, soaking in the last autumn sun and over looking the city. By the way, they lost points for running out of cider!
Our adventure started at 11.30am and after 5.5 hrs of eating and trying out 19 bowls of ramen, we were all ready to roll home. This is a snapshot of our scores. It is pretty obvious that Ramen Ya came up tops, followed by Ito and then Chocolate Buddha. I am sure we will change out minds once we get to try ramen in Japan but for now, this is the best that Melbourne has to offer. I just wish that at least one of them did the egg right. The closest one that almost had the egg in the right texture was at Menya. Maybe lucky?
I am still trying to get over our little ramen adventure on Easter Monday and it will be awhile till I am able to face another bowl of ramen. It was a lot of eating and I need to thank all those that participated and especially to @cloudcontrol for making the scorecards. I had a lot of fun showing my scores but more curious in what others thought!
So thanks again to:
- Mister @Th0i3 – Flickr album
- Agnes & partner of Off the spork – Melbourne CBD Ramen Hunting
- Maria & partner of The Gourmet Challenge
- Billy of Half Eaten & Debbie – Ramen Hunt
- Adrian of Food Rehab
And please check out on MSG’s personal hunt for the best ramen in Melbourne.
And my previous post on Ramen Ya & Momotaro