If I could only have one meal for the rest of my life, I’d choose ramen. Noodles + soup = a match made in heaven, especially when you go to the right place. These 5 ramen restaurants have been tried and tested, and have rightfully earned their place among the best in Melbourne. If you ask me what I think makes a top notch ramen, I’ll tell you a perfectly balanced broth, fresh noodles, and of course the Ajitsuke Tamago, more commonly known as the ramen egg.
At its core, it’s a simple dish, but it’s the tender love and care put in that makes it stand out. Take a look at these ramen restaurants that have won my heart. And remember, slurping your soup is considered polite in Japanese culture, in fact, it’s a sign of appreciation to the chef, so slurp away!
329 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Upon entering this popular Fitzroy noodle haven you’ll be first greeted with neon signs, simple Japanese decor and a cosy and comfy dining space. Shop Ramen offers a huge communal table and two-seater tables, as well as outdoor seating so you can bring your four-legged friend.
The menu opts for a quality approach rather than quantity, with a choice of four equally delicious ramen options. In addition to this, you can also choose from rice bowls, steamed buns, and a cheeky ice cream pie for those with room for dessert.
Their Pork Belly ramen will simply melt in your mouth, but if it’s a hot summer’s day and you’re feeling a little steamed yourself, try their chilled noodles for a refreshing change. Take your pick between Yuzu Citrus or Hot’n’Spicy topped with cucumber, kimchi, egg, bean shoots, Chinese broccoli and pickles.
Shop Ramen can be found both on Smith St in Fitzroy, and at the newly opened Plenty Rd store in Preston.
309 Victoria Street, Abbotsford
Vegetarians and Vegans be warned: you’re all about to die and go to ramen heaven.
This Abbotsford based specialty restaurant has an entire menu dedicated to Vegan bites, and at least 10 Vegetarian ramens to choose from. Ever wanted to know what Peking Duck tastes like but you don’t eat meat? No problems here – try their Vegan Peking Duck Bao.
And if you’re a meat eater, be prepared to have your mind blown, because they have just about a million options. You may even be a little overwhelmed for choice – which can only be a good thing, right? For something a little different to your typical ramen options, try the Soft Shell Crab Laksa Ramen (insanely delicious), or Whiskey Ramen with Yamasaki 12 year single malt Whiskey and Junmai Sake.
If you haven’t noticed by now, let me be the first to tell you they are more than aware that people love having options. Love the noodles but not the broth? Try their ‘Super Dry’ soup-less ramen that comes with broth on the side in case you change your mind. You’re bound to find something you love here.
168 Russell Street, Melbourne
If you’ve ever walked down Russell Street at night and stumbled upon a huge line of people queuing outside a restaurant, then may I formally introduce you to Hakata Gensuke.
Founded by ramen master Mr. Yoshimura, winner of the Ultimate Ramen Champion title in both 2011 and 2012, it’s no wonder the people of Melbourne are prepared to wait outside in rain, hail or shine for this award winning noodle soup.
The broth is cooked for 3 days, ensuring a full, rich flavour that can be tasted in their signature Tonkotsu Ramen. And their quality control process? The team of highly trained chefs eat and inspect a bowl of Hakata Gensuke ramen every day to ensure that taste and flavour is at the forefront of the dish. And as if this isn’t enough; the venue gets regular visits from Mr. Yoshimura himself to get his golden tick of approval. It doesn’t get more authentic than that.
If the lines on Russell Street are too long, pop around the corner to the QV Centre venue, or check out one of their three other venues in Hawthorn, Carlton and Westfield Doncaster. Online it’s claimed to be the #1 ramen restaurant in Melbourne, so go ahead and see for yourself!
225 Russell Street, Melbourne
Fancy yourself a big bowl of ramen for breakfast? No problems. Shujinko is Melbourne’s first authentic 24 hour ramen restaurant! Situated on Russell Street, you’ll be greeted by a sea of ‘Arigato!’s from all the friendly staff. You couldn’t possibly get a warmer welcome, and for that, it gets an immediate 10/10 for atmosphere.
Their motto ‘Put your heart into the noodles and your love into the soup’ speaks volumes about the type of establishment it is. You can absolutely taste the love that’s been so carefully cooked into their ramen. It’s served in beautiful, deep set bowls with a ladle-like spoon that makes the dining experience all the more enjoyable. When you sit down to eat you can’t help but notice the buzzing atmosphere inside; it’s busy, bustling and truly authentic.
For something different, get the Tsukemen, also known as dipping ramen, where the noodles are served separately to the broth to be dipped in at your own leisure. Or if you’ve had a ramen overload and need a break, try their hand made Gyoza!
151B Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Ramen, gyoza and a drink for $15? Most would say this kind of deal is unheard of. But not at No.18 Ramen!
Get there at the right time in lunch hours and you can snatch yourself up this bargain. Choose from selected ramens, a tapas item and selected drinks to take advantage of their great value lunch deal. This small but sweet restaurant is located in both St Kilda and Richmond, and serves vegetarian ramen that is actually vegetarian. Most veggie ramens are usually made with chicken broth, but here you’ll be treated to a miso broth that perfectly complements the traditional Japanese flavours in the bowl. And while you’re enjoying this taste sensation, don’t forget to take notice of the branded Nori that comes with every bowl.
If you fancy your meals on the spicy side, try their ‘Dragon’ ramen which is self-described as ‘Flaming Spicy’. To extinguish the fire in your mouth, cool down with one of their Japanese influenced cocktails
By Megan Henderson