I do love good ramen. But good ramen is something that’s hard to come by in Melbourne. So when I found out a new ramen bar had opened, I couldn’t wait to try. For me, good ramen is a combination of excellent broth, springy noodles and simple trimmings done well.
I knew they were gaining popularity fast, so we made sure to arrive just as they opened to avoid queuing up in the cold. We were beckoned into the snug little space, by a softly-spoken waitress with a warm, friendly smile. I really loved the space. It was small and the decor was simple, yet it felt warm and cozy. Being indecisive as I am, I actually changed my mind after I’ve placed the order in. However, this was graciously accommodated by the restaurant without a fuss.
And this is what I changed to – the Chashu tamago. It is described as “A Classic Tonkotsu Ramen topped with extra slices of BBQ pork and a gooey seasoned soft-boiled egg”; it was the extra slices of chashu that made me change my mind. When my ramen arrived at the table the first thing I noticed was the speckles of fat floating on top of the soup. I am not one that squirms at high fat content, but I did find this quite unsettling due to the unpleasant texture that the solid, white fat added, not to mention how oily it got by the end of my meal. Personally, I found the Chashu quite bland and as for the soup base I am rather unsure. You see my dad has a habit of going to the butcher, buying the biggest bones he can find, simmer it with other ingredients hours on end and the result is a rather deep, comforting soup base. Maybe it was due to that desensitisation, but the soup failed to wow me. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, but it wasn’t amazing.
Coincidentally, a couple of weeks later a friend of mine invited a group us over to his house for his own homemade ramen. In truth, I thought his version was significantly better than Little Ramen Bar’s. The soup base was flavoursome and rich, simmered to the point of being close to gelatinous.
He also made the silkiest chawanmushi I’ve ever tasted. The food we enjoyed at his place were amazing and he put in so much effort preparing everything. I feel so lucky! Thank you so much for being such a wonderful host!
With the line still snaking out of Little Ramen’s door and better home-cooked ramen all around me, I don’t think I will be too hasty to return soon. But if I crave ramen in the city and there’s not such a huge line, I will still pop in. I really had hoped that Little Ramen lived up to its hype, but it came up just a tiny bit short. So I am still on search for Melbourne’s best ramen. Hopefully, I can find it soon.