From a working man’s dish in China to Japan in the 19th century, to being given ‘haute cuisine’ status in America by chef David Chang, ramen has journeyed along trade routes and survived world wars.
Despite being a cultural ‘mish mash’, ramen is unrivalled in its ability to gain fans #noramennolife. Talk ramen and its converts will espouse the beauty of their favourite bowl, not to mention their preferred ramen house. For converts and newbies alike, here’s a round-up of places to tuck into a bowl of this iconic dish:
Ramen Danbo, Mercato Southport and Chop Chop Surfers Paradise.
Owner Andrew Hosaka-Zaniewski takes ramen very seriously. He brought the Japanese franchise to Australia and tells us that though Japanese treat ramen as a fast food, one of its secrets is the traditional slow-cooked broth. Danbo ramen carries four different types of ramen: Tonkotsu, Shoyu, Miso and Shio, each one originating from a different area of Japan. When you go to a ramen shop, Andrew says, you should be served straight away. Best eaten while it’s hot, ramen is the perfect weekday lunch.
Muso Ramen, Chirn Park, Mermaid Beach and The Kitchens Robina
“Welcome to the soul of Japan!” What makes Muso Ramen stand out from the pack is that Chef Akira Takagi and his team handmake authentic Japanese ramen noodles from scratch on a daily basis. Offering eight different ramen varieties, from pork based Black Miso or Tokyo Truffle Soy with chicken, konbu and shiitake broth to the vegan gluten-free Buddha with seasonal vegetables, you’ll be eating artisan-made food, light years away from the instant noodles they spawned.
Hakataya Ramen, Surfers Paradise, Pacific Fair Broadbeach
Open for 14 hours a day every day, Hakataya is on every blogger’s list of ‘must do’ places, and highly recommended as the ultimate cheap and cheerful by travellers. With 48-hour simmered pork broth and no added preservatives, even though there are only five ramen on the menu (including traditional nagahama ramen, charsiu-men and our favourite miso spicy-men), their tiny shops often have a line up of customers waiting for a seat.
JFX: Japanese Food Express, Southport
A favourite on the coast since opening ten years ago, JFX’s extensive menu of Japanese favourite dishes boasts nine different ramen bowls from classic soy ramen to salt and pepper, spicy or crumbed chicken ramen. As well, there are lots of additions or possible variations on offer. With a keenly priced menu of bowls ranging from $12, JFX is a popular student hangout.
Goukai Ramen, Burleigh Heads
“There are two things that make our ramen stand out,” Goukai’s co-owner Hiroshi Takeyama tells us. “Firstly, we want our broth to be really authentic, just like it would be in Tokyo. You’ll find our pork belly cha-shu is sliced thickly. It’s really tender, flamed in aburi style so that you get a smoky flavour.” Goukai also serves a bright vegetable laden ‘veggie’ ramen with a couple of vegan options under development. NOTE: Goukai Ramen is presently closed.
I Like Ramen, Nobby Beach
I Like Ramen founders Bob Douglas and Dominic Benjamin may have started their business as a stall at Miami Marketta, but their growing band of followers has led them to expand to stores in the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Developing the flavours themselves, you can choose from a range of plant-based broths, including our earthy favourite, shiitake and soy. Make sure you add a side of panko mushrooms!
Izakaya Midori, Reedy Creek
In the Gold Coast’s first plant-based Japanese eatery, it’s fitting that the signature Midori Ramen, is a deep rich green soup containing ramen and vegan pork mince. It’s not only deliciously addictive but also Insta-worthy. Co-owner Yuka explains its origins: “Chef Fumi has made a new type of ramen…well-balanced in taste with plenty of body…Midori Ramen gains its colour from the spinach paste that he makes. Its thickness comes from sesame, and the body broth is made from vegetables and seaweed.”