The 8 Best Bowls Of Ramen In Sydney
Amen to ramen.
Writing a list of the best ramen joints in Sydney is basically just a way to open yourself up to online criticism. With such a subjective topic, there is bound to be disagreement – some people like their noodles cooked soft, but others prefer a decent chew to them. Some enjoy a thick, meaty and collagen-filled pork broth while others tend towards more delicate miso or soy-based soups. You might be a soft-boiled egg person, or think there is no point to this Japanese speciality without some freshly cooked corn kernels floating in the broth. But whatever your tastes, we guarantee there is a bowl in here that you will love.
‘Tis the season to indulge as ramen is perfect winter food – hearty, delicious and filling, so follow our advice here and you’ll be ramming quality ramen into your face-hole quick smart.
Where: Shop 209 25-29 Dixon Street, Haymarket
With a broth so thick that it’s practically a stew, Gumshara’s ramen has earned the nickname of ‘The Chronic’ from one of Sydney’s top chefs Dan Hong. The tonkotsu (pork) stock base is made from 120-kilos of pork bones that are simmered for hours in water. That’s it. Just pork bones and tender loving care go into this incredible broth, to which fresh ramen noodles (on the toothsome side of cooked) and your choice of toppings and accompaniments are added. The pork spare rib noodle soup is an exercise in indulgence – with a meaty, soft pork rib floating on top of the viscous broth. Get in early though, as a limited number of pork rib bowls are served each day. The BBQ pork and garlic tonkotsu noodle soups are just as good – though so rich that it’s a real challenge to finish them.
#2 Ryo’s Noodles
Where: 125 Falcon Street, Crows Nest
Top quality ramen on Sydney’s north side isn’t too common, which is probably why the lunchtime queues for Ryo’s in Crows Nest are often out of control. But after just one bowl of this ramen you’ll understand why people are hooked. The menu is divided between tonkotsu (pork) and shoyu (soy and chicken) broths, with their biggest seller the ‘Tokyo Soy’ on the lighter side of the ramen scale. Toppings include meltingly soft pork slices, soft centred eggs and fresh-tasting bok choy which is a nice palate cleanser. The spicy shoyu with roast pork is magical, and if you’re feeling like something a bit out of the box, the miso bolognaise is worth a try. It’s not strictly a ramen dish – instead it’s a meaty, umami pork sauce spooned over ramen noodles that are just perfect for slurping. Maybe pop on a napkin for this one, though.
#3 Ichi-Ban Boshi
Where: Level 2, The Galeries Victoria, 500 George Street, Sydney (also at Bondi Junction)
Sydney’s best value-for-money ramen shop is also one of its oldest. Just 30 bowls of their famous collagen-heavy tonkotsu ramen come out of the kitchen each day, but at around $10 a pop, it’s worth queuing with the other hordes of people to fight for your right to deliciousness. This soup is the real deal, thick and almost creamy – it’s best not to wait too long to eat as it will actually form a thin skin on the top if you don’t dive right in. The noodles are automatically and authentically cooked ‘hard’ and are quite firm to the tooth, but can be cooked longer on request. Other menu heroes here include the gyoza dumplings and tsukemen (a type of ramen where you dip the cold noodles into a hot broth). There’s also the option of green spinach noodles for all orders.
#4 Ramen Ikkyu
Where: Shop F1A, Sussex Centre Food Court, 401 Sussex Street, Haymarket
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only thing better than a steaming bowl of ramen on a cold day is the ability to order it via touchscreen. This food-court ramen bar in the heart of Chinatown combines old-school chef skills with the novelty of new-fangled technology, allowing you to customise your own noodle soup. (You can also just order by pointing at the menu display and speaking with staff but that is clearly less fun.) The ramen with black garlic oil is so delicious that you’ll want the bowl to keep going forever – and luckily it sort of can, with Ikkyu offering free ‘kaedama’ or noodle refills to make the most of your broth. The chashu ramen is also great if you’re feeling extra-hungry, with double the number of slices of their trademark thick-cut roast pork filling the bowl to the brim.
#5 Menya Noodle Bar
Where: Shop 2, 1 Market Street, Sydney
If it’s spicy noodle soup you’re after then look no further than Menya’s ‘Dragon’ ramen – a scarlet-coloured concoction that, when ordered ‘extra super hot’ will have you breathing fire just like Drogon in Game of Thrones. Studded with pork mince and a perfectly cooked soy-sauce egg, the dragon ramen is a serious challenge. Less spicy, but no less delicious is the Kara-age Ramen, with crispy fried chicken floating in your choice of shoyu, miso or salt based broth. For the truly daring though, taking on the Menya Mega Ramen is a must – a double serve of the roast pork-heavy soup that will probably defeat all but the hungriest of ramen-lovers.
Where: Level 5 (Shop 5021) of Westfield Sydney, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney
With more than 100 locations around the world, the Ippudo chain knows what it takes to be successful in the ramen business. You get to specify exactly how hard or soft you’d like your noodles cooked, and there are condiments like sesame seeds and chilli oil on all tables so you can get the exact flavour profile you were hoping for. The Akamaru ramen is all salty, creamy goodness with thin noodles and a dollop of miso and paprika paste to stir through, while the classic Shiromaru is popular for good reason with plenty of thick pork slices and a moreish tonkotsu pork bone broth base. Ippudo also does a pretty great version of those steamed buns filled with BBQ pork that are everywhere now in Sydney, as well as a slightly bizarre but delicious green tea and red bean flavoured lamington.
Where: 482 Anzac Parade, Kingsford
If you’re looking for a spot that does bang-for-your-buck lunches, head to a university and check out where the students are going for food. University of NSW kids form long orderly queues out the door of Manpuku at Kingsford every day, waiting patiently to fill up on serves of tasty and affordable ramen soup. The Manpaku Black Ramen has a dark swirl of black garlic oil that spreads throughout the bowl like a delicious oil-slick. Also good is the Sia Tonkotsu – a salty, soy-based broth with firm noodles and chunks of roast pork. We’ve also heard the ‘Kono Deaini Kanshashite Aijou to Jonetsu Komete isshoukennmei Tukutta Ochirano Icchan Sukina Manpuku shiawase’ ramen (yes, that is its full name as written in the menu) is great, but we had no idea how to order it.
#8 Chaco Bar
Where: 238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst
Chaco Bar might be relatively new to the Sydney food scene, but those in the know are all over it and its mind-blowing noodle soups. Only available at lunchtimes Wednesday to Saturday, and limited to around 70 bowls a day, this ramen is basically a collector’s edition. There are just two options: Fat Soy or Fish Salt. Both are well worth trying (or take a friend and share) but it’s the Fat Soy that has stolen our heart – a thick, gelatinous tonkotsu pork bone broth, with the option of deciding exactly how much fat you want included. The noodles have a decent bite to them, and each mouthful is full of thick, creamy, meaty goodness. It’s a collector’s edition soup that is going straight to the pool room.
(Lead image: Valentine Svensson/Flickr)