A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published February 13th 2017
Sutherland's hub of saké and soup
Nothing like a piping-hot bowl of goodies drenched in umami broth, each sip and slurp packed with flavour. While coined a 'winter-weather hug from Japan', a steamy noodle-soup from Kuroneko Noodle Bar was more than welcome in my tum one balmy summer night.
This hub of fresh, authentic ramen, abuzz with activity, is home to Sutherland - minutes walk from the train station. We were made very welcome upon arrival by a waiter who didn't waste a second in setting up an alfresco table for us in light of an already packed restaurant. The only buzz-kill, literally, were the mosquitos attacking my feet.
The bar is quaint, and a popular dive in the area, especially among beach-goers after an early dinner on the way home. This is why walk-ins are more likely to score a seat from around 7.30-8pm on weekends - an insight that our helpful waiter let us in on. Reservations are more than welcome, however, as are takeaway orders.
Choose from a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to accompany your meal. As a Saturday evening treat, we ordered the Plum Sake (or Japanese plum wine) to sip on. This was crisp and fruitful with sweet and tangy hints from the plum. We were given stoneware cups alongside the drink so we could experience it in way that's reminiscent of tradition.
As per usual, I was unable to resist the spicy option, and I will admit it caught my eye right off the bat so I didn't pay much attention to what was in the other ramen dishes. This in itself, however, was everything one would want in a ramen fix.
A generous, deep bowl, was packed with oodles of noodles. These sat in a flavoursome pool of broth. It was laced with juicy pork mince, seaweed contributing to the umami, and a boiled egg for something more. To top it off, it packed quite the spicy punch from the word go.
Among other traditional alternatives to ramen on offer at Kuroneko, is Teriyaki Chicken Donburi, aka a bowl of fluffy steamy rice atop with a shiny, tender chicken pieces. A refreshing salad accompanies this, and miso soup as a side is recommended for that little bit of umami comfort on the side.
Also find a range of lighter dishes if you're not quite up to the challenge of stomaching an entire ramen bowl - as delicious as they are, they're renowned for leaving you bloated. Among these is the fresh Avocado Sushi. We were surprised to see the number of these bite-sized pieces that are plated up to order.
Flare it up with some optional wasabi, and enjoy what is really a substantial vegetarian option - would make for a great side to share. Speaking of vegetarian options, another good pick is the Udon Kakiage (picture at top). This sees udon in a clear soup - a contrastingly subtle flavour to that of the ramen. This came with crispy kakiage - otherwise known as tempura, or vegetables with a crispy batter.
I'm very keen to revisit Kuroneko for the quaint yet bustling Japanese scene it creates in the midst of Sutherland, and for its great range of Japanese signatures. Leave with a 'winter-weather hug', or simply a happy umami tummy, no matter the season.