Freelance writer and blogger from Sydney (ex-Melbourne). Avid foodie and traveller. Loves dogs.
Published June 28th 2016
Ah, winters in Melbourne. They're brutal and they're long. The days are tainted with strong southerly winds while nights are best spent snuggled under three layers of blanket, your favourite show on TV and a hot chocolate or two. For those who dare brave the elements to fossick for food, however, there's only one dish that's perfect for these blistering cold days: ramen. Yup, Japan's ultimate soul food is the perfect antidote to these winter blues. Here are my picks for the best ramen in Melbourne.
1. Hakata Gensuke: as its name suggests, this popular city ramen ya originated from Hakata, the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen. Chef Kousuke Yoshimura brought his popular brand of ramen to Melbourne a few years ago – and we've been hooked. Each bowl of ramen here is filled with a large handful of homemade thin noodles and a rich, milk broth packed with collagen and fat before being topped with chashu (sliced pork), black fungus and spring onions.
Address: 168 Russell Street, Melbourne
2. Ramen Bankara: the Bankara brand began in Ikebukuro, Tokyo; now, the Bankara name can be found in several countries including Australia. Known for its signature hybrid Tokyo-style ramen, Ramen Bankara boasts four stores in Melbourne with the first having opened in Doncaster in 2015. The franchise's signature dish is its Bankara ramen, where the broth is cooked for many hours over high heat. Made with pork back fat and pork bones with a dash of soy, the resulting broth is rich, buttery and very filling. To maintain the brand's authenticity, noodles are imported from Tokyo and delivered to each store.
3. Fukuryu Ramen: with its name translating to 'lucky dragon' in Japanese, Fukuryu Ramen has been a steady powerhouse in Melbourne's ramen scene. Tucked in a laneway, this popular ramen house offers the traditional ramen choices of tonkotsu, miso, shoyu and shio with contemporary options available such as chicken tonkotsu and the fiery red dragon ramen making appearances on the menu.
4. Shop Ramen: due to its Smith Street location, it's probably no surprise that Shop Ramen does ramen with a friendly hipster twist. Here, there is less emphasis on authenticity; rather, it's all about experimenting with bold flavours that strangely work (e.g. a vegan ramen made with almond milk resulting in a surprisingly silky broth). Shop Ramen's add-ons are also worth a mention like their fluffy steamed buns and salted caramel thick shakes.
Address: 329 Smith Street, Collingwood
5. Mensousai Mugen: putting the 'cool' in ramen ya is this quiet achiever that is known for making some of Melbourne's finest tsukemen (dipping ramen). While traditional ramen options such as miso ramen are available, it's best not to deviate from the script and stick to the crowd favourite: the wafu tsukemen with its dashi and soy broth, housemade thick noodles, chashu, bamboo shoots and crispy seaweed as you watch cult Japanese movies being projected on the big wall.
Great article. Well chosen content. But come on! Everyone travels these days. How can we possibly claim our winters are long and brutal compared with winters around the globe?! I see the nice contrast between crumby weather and just the right nourishing food but it's a bit wimpy classing Melbourne winter as brutal. On a scale of 1-10 how much pain are you feeling? Do you always answer 9?
Weather is a subjective feeling and yes for some it will be brutal and for others the same temperature will feel mild. We all have a different internal thermostat. In any case we a fortunate to have a wonderful selection of eateries.