Fukuryu RamenMay 22, 2014
The question, ‘Wanna sweat it out over a bowl of ramen with me?’ is how this dinner began. Indeed, Miss K and my friendship began, I like to think, over a bowl of ramen. Specifically, a bowl of ramen at David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village. It was a sweltering summer’s day, with my neck growing damp as we walked from the metro station. Despite the insistent heat, we gleefully tucked into a huge, spicy, hot bowl of rich, porky ramen. Ignoring the sweat gathering on our brows, for a moment, that bowl of ramen was the best goddamn thing in the world. Here’s a picture, although I have to say it doesn’t do it justice. This was one of those foodie experiences that transcended the physical.
It seemed only natural then, that I go with K to try Melbourne’s newest (and hottest, if Instagram is to be believed) ramen joint, Fukuryu Ramen. The restaurant is in the same building as Sichuan House, but a couple of flights upstairs. One word of advice: get in early to avoid long queues, although even with quite a long queue I think it moves reasonably quickly.
We picked a couple of starters, K the Shoyu ramen, myself the Miso, and we sat ourselves down at a table to wait for our meals. ‘Why not the tonkotsu’, you ask? Well, they had sold out. Mid week, early during the dinner service, they’re darn well sold out of their “signature” ramen. K and I were, quite frankly, devastated, having queued up for some time to have it specifically.
On our way out, I bumped into a friend who had just ordered his food. Specifically, he’d just ordered the tonkotsu! I was understandably peeved. It’s such a silly idea, that a dish would be taken off the menu but then reappear later on the same night, obviously they’re struggling a bit with customer numbers. Had their delivery of pork bones just come in around 7:30? Quite ridiculous, not to mention frustrating. Make more, dammit, so I can try it next time!
Anyway, since I can’t review a dish I didn’t even eat, I should focus on what we did order. Our starters actually arrived after the ramen which wasn’t ideal – it would have been nice to enjoy the starters first without our ramen cooling off. Having said that, the gyoza were pretty ace, crispy skin and a juicy filling.
Also good was the chicken karaage, small bites of chicken de-boned and fried to crisp perfection.
Here is K’s Shoyu ramen. Tokyo style! screams the menu, which I suppose refers to the soy base. A clear broth was a light but flavourful host to the noodles, soy egg and pork slices.
My miso ramen was quite nutty and savoury, served with pork, corn, spring onions, seaweed and a soy egg. The broth was alright, but I did think it lacked depth of flavour. A real highlight were the noodles, which were perfectly chewy and bouncy. The soy egg, which comes standard and not for an additional $1 like most places, was also lovely and wobbly. A few more slices of pork wouldn’t have gone astray – two thin rashers weren’t very generous.
Overall, the ramen was quite good, very reasonably priced, but it’s got nothing on Momofuku which will forever, I think, serve as my benchmark. Having said that, it’s unfair to compare a miso broth with a tonkotsu broth – I would love to tell you Fukuryu’s tonkotsu is a good contender, but I can’t, for obvious reasons.
Free cones of green tea ice-cream to finish off the night. Fukuryu Ramen put on a good show, certainly one of the best options in this ramen-starved town, but I still haven’t forgiven them for denying me my tonkotsu!
A few days after this post was published, I was invited back by the kind people at Fukuryu Ramen to try their tonkotsu. They admitted that they were initially a bit overwhelmed by such a positive response from Melbourne ramen-eaters, but have adjusted to their growing customer base and don’t run out of their signature tonkotsu any more! This was great news for me, and I’m happy to report that their tonkotsu is a fantastically rich, marrow-tasting broth with plenty of toppings. The noodles take on the porky-ness of the broth in the most wonderful way, and it’s best slurped up hot as soon as it arrive. Thanks again to the friendly team at Fukuryu Ramen!
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