Food and Drink

   

Ra-Ra-Ramen

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One of my favourite things about Japanese cuisine has to be Ramen Noodle Soup. Not only is it bloody delicious but you’re encouraged to be both messy and noisy while eating it. Plus it’s one of those dishes you can fool yourself into thinking is healthy when it’s kinda not (like Caesar Salad).

The Japanese are said to have adopted the concept from China then created regional variations from the frosty top to the balmy bottom and everywhere in between. What was once a fancy dining-out occasion has become the affordable street food, now available in can-form, to be found all over Japan and the world – including Kokoro Ramen right here in Melbourne.

Open since last December, Kokoro Ramen has Japanese aficionados in a spin to have their say, so I’ll cut to the chase with my thoughts – it is…acceptable. It’s nice but still not quite like the real thing. The stand-out feature is the imported noodle machine to make fresh noodles on site which are deliciously springy – not like the curly instant type you often see these days.

The menu features entrees, rice dishes and around 20 Ramen dishes with four different bases and a build-your-own-ramen section. For sides we got Gyoza and Fried chicken (both $5.50). The gyoza was disappointingly small and packed a caress rather than a punch, but the chicken (Karaage) totally made up for it with its crispy coating and soft, pink, steaming, fleshy – oops I just dribbled.

I chose the Tonkotsu Miso base and the recommended ‘Butter Corn’ topping ($14.50) popular in Hokkaido. I was interested to see if the dish had a popcorn flavour or at very least some Jelly Belly garnish. It had neither, which is fine because the miso base had body, a hint of spice and a deep reddish colour – that baby got back.

On top of that was pork, spring onions, bamboo shoots, seaweed, corn kernels, egg, sesame seeds and a square of butter. It didn’t look so sexy but it tasted it! Unfortunately the corn was flavourless – this normally wouldn’t have bothered me but being the key ingredient my non-chopstick hand was balled into a fist as I cursed not ordering the soft shell crab ramen instead.

The place was obviously still getting up on its feet as there was only one Japanese beer available, as well as cask sake, water and a few soft drinks. The staff seemed apologetic about the missing components, so I believe there is more to come.

Overall Kokoro Ramen was a nice dinner but the prices and a few ingredients could do with some revision. It was a shame about my first butter corn experience too, I guess I’ll have to go to Hokkaido to slurp my way to the best darn butter corn I can find!

Self-challenge accepted.

Kokoro Ramen
157 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
9650 1215
Mon – Sat 11am – late


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