Melbourne University Arts graduate, freelance writer and photographer.
Enter the Lucky Dragon
Fukuryu Ramen opened in Melbourne just two months ago and have since been cooking up a storm of delicious ramen. The restaurant occupies a large, airy warehouse space located on Corrs Lane (just off Little Bourke Street). You'll know you've found the right place when you see a bright red wall with a mural of a dragon wrapped around a bowl of ramen (Fukuryu means 'lucky dragon' in Japanese).
Enter through what looks to be the back door of a seedy Asian club and climb up a dingy staircase to the first floor level. There you will find Fukuryu Ramen, a brightly lit room with an authentic Japanese feel. Every customer that walks in is greeted by their friendly staff in traditional Japanese fashion, so don't be startled when they all shout 'irasshaimase!' (welcome) at you in unison.
We arrived around 11am and managed to beat the lunch crowd. Lucky for us, there was no line to order and plenty of seats available, but be warned, I hear it can get pretty crowded during peak hours.
Between myself and two other girls, we ordered two bowls of the signature tonkotsu and one shoyu ramen. We also ordered a small plate of gyoza, tebasaki chicken wings, and chicken karaage. And to top that all off, we each had a green tea ice cream for dessert. What? We were hungry..
Their signature tonkotsu (pork bone-based) ramen was thick and creamy as advertised. The broth was very rich and flavoursome but not overly salty and the noodles had a nice spring to them. The ramen was topped with two slices of tender chashu (braised pork belly), half a perfectly soft boiled egg, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, nori (seaweed), and spring onions.
The shoyu (soy sauce-based) ramen was lighter in comparison to the tonkotsu, but was still very tasty. The broth had a delicate fishy flavour and a slight tangy taste to it. It came with the same toppings as the tonkotsu, except instead of mushrooms it had naruto (fish cakes), which complemented the broth nicely.
The size of their bowls were smaller than what most other ramen joints serve, but we all agreed that the portion size was just right. It doesn't put you in a food coma and leaves room in your stomach for some side dishes and dessert! However, if all you're having is ramen, it might not be enough to fill you up.
Since my last visit (four weeks ago), they have added an extra slice of chashu to the regular size bowl and now offer a larger bowl with double the toppings for customers with a bigger appetite. They also added chicken tonkotsu to their menu for people who aren't fans of pork and a spicy 'red dragon' ramen for the more adventurous.
The great thing about Fukuryu Ramen is that they really listen to their customers and respond well to their needs. I noticed that they have added a lot of new items to their menu since they opened and are continually improving.
After tasting how good their ramen was, we were really excited to try the gyoza, but sad to say it fell short of our expectations. The skin was thin and crispy (which was ok) but the filling was cold. To be honest, we weren't sure if they were properly cooked through. In addition, the texture of the filling was far too mushy (almost like a paste) and had a weird acidic taste to it. I hope that this is something else they've improved on since our last visit.
We did, however, enjoy their chicken small plates. The tebasaki chicken wings were seasoned with a good amount of salt and pepper and will have you licking your fingers. The chicken karaage was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and came with a delicious spicy mayo sauce on the side.
Their green tea ice cream was more icy than creamy. It was very sweet and the green tea flavour was quite subtle. I'd say it's good for those who are trying green tea ice cream for the first time. As someone who is obsessed with anything green tea flavoured, I'd prefer it not to be as watered down. However, it was refreshing nonetheless and a good way to cleanse the palate after such a flavourful meal. They usually charge $2.90 for a cone but are currently giving them away to customers for free.
Despite some minor issues with the gyoza, we really enjoyed the food. I definitely want to go back to sample the nori tofu and dry oil ramen. Many would agree that Fukuryu Ramen is one of the more authentic Japanese ramen joints in the city and I highly recommend that you try it out. Note that they are only giving away free ice cream until May 16, so get in quick!