Freelance writer and blogger from Sydney (ex-Melbourne). Avid foodie and traveller. Loves dogs.
Published January 28th 2017
Slurp your way through a delicious bowl of Tokyo-style ramen
Did you know that ramen comes in all shapes, sizes and forms? If you're travelling through Japan, you will find that each region will have its own distinct style of ramen. For example, Hakata is known for its signature milky tonkotsu (pone bone broth) while further up north in Sapporo, hearty miso broths are the way to go especially during the snowy winter months. Tokyo itself is also home to its own unique style of ramen, where curly noodles are served in a soy-flavoured chicken broth. You don't often find Tokyo-style ramen in Melbourne so when I heard that Ramen Bankara, a Tokyo institution, was opening in Melbourne, I got excited. Ramen Bankara doesn't serve traditional Tokyo-style ramen per se; rather, they've come up with their own hybrid version – a soy-flavoured pork bone broth that's won them fans from all over the world.
At present, Ramen Bankara has two locations in Melbourne; I went to their flagship restaurant on Swanston Street but those living in the eastern suburbs might find their Westfield Doncaster location more convenient. Both restaurants are designed in a way that plays tribute to the original Ramen Bankara stall in Ikebukuro Tokyo: sleek wooden furnishings, traditional fabric dividers and a bench along the kitchen, designed for solo dining.
Inside Ramen Bankara's Swanston Street restaurant, Melbourne CBD
One cannot walk into Ramen Bankara without ordering their signature ramen, aptly called the Bankara. The exquisite pork bone broth is cooked for hours and hours over high heat, which results with a broth that's milky and full of flavour. The broth contains bits of floating back fat in it to give the broth extra flavour and texture. Infused with refined soy sauce, the broth itself is a taste sensation. The Bankara comes with spring onions, fermented bamboo shoots and chasiu (sliced pork) but I recommended you order kakuni (soy braised pork belly) on top for the ultimate taste sensation.
During the summer months, the tsukemen is a popular order. A tsukemen is a unique type of ramen where the noodles and broth are served separately. You dip the springy thick noodles in a rich peppery broth and eat the broth-coated noodles. It's a great way to enjoy ramen when you're craving a bowl of ramen but it's 35 degrees outside.
Ramen Bankara was very busy when we visited on a warm balmy night, a testament to its popularity. I can only imagine just how much busier it will be as the mercury drops and we head into the cooler winter months.