Friday, 26 February 2010

Taro's Ramen Cafe

I'm the first to admit that I don't eat a lot of Japanese food. It's not that I don't like it - it's just not very gluten free friendly.

Recently Taro's Ramen Cafe opened in the city. As I knew that Taro Akimoto (the owner) wrote a blog all about ramen, I was expecting the food to be fairly authentic. If you haven't eaten ramen before, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

A Japanese noodle dish that originated in China. It is served in a meat or fish based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, green onions and even corn. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu ramen of Kyūshū to the miso ramen of Hokkaidō.

(If you're keen to read a bit more about the different types of ramen, surf your way over to Rameniac, which is a massive source of information about ramen).

From the street, Taro's doesn't look like a Japanese eatery - the first thing you see is a big snack/sandwich bar - although once we stepped inside we soon found the compact ramen menu. Taro's offers the following ramen dishes:

Tonkotsu Ramen (noodles in hot soup -$14.80) - rich stock made from 100% Bangalow sweetpork bone. Cooked for over 16 hours and topped with charsiu (pork), nori (dried seaweed), egg & shallots. Served with pickled ginger and Takana pickles.

Shoyu Ramen (noodles in hot soup - $13.80) - a triple soup blend of vegetable, chicken and dried seafood broth, flavoured with aged soy sauce and topped with charsiu, nori, egg, shallots.

Tsukemen (cold noodles with hot dipping soup - $14.80) - Triple soup stock with dried seafood powder and topped with charsiu, nori, egg & shallots (ask for hot water “oyu wari” to dilute and drink up the soup at the end).

Hiyashi Ramen (cold noodles with cold soup - $14.80) - the stock is made from dried seafood sourced from Kataoka-san of Tokushimaya and topped with charsiu, egg, tomato and fresh salad.

Both my friend and I ordered the Tonkotsu ramen. After finding out I was a coeliac, Taro kindly offered to make an alternative version for me, based on salt instead of soy sauce and containing rice noodles. I decided to take him up on the rice noodles, but kept the soy sauce in the broth.

After ordering at the counter, we popped outside to the shady courtyard, which was surprisingly cool on a very warm day. The tables were almost full, which is usually a good sign in my book. Our ramen arrived shortly afterwards in large bowls, with equally large Japanese-looking soup ladles. Both our bowls of ramen were served with a side dish containing benishoga (red ginger) and takana (pickled mustard greens).

The stock itself was very rich, and had a cloudy appearance. Swimming around in the stock were the noodles, nitimago (half a soft boiled egg), charisu (a thin slice of pork), fresh shallot slices, a piece of nori and some sesame seeds.

Although the stock had a very rich flavour, it didn't overpower the other ingredients. The pork was especially fantastic - although it was only a thin slice, it had such a beautiful flavour - sweet and slightly cured. The nori was unlike any nori I'd tried before - it actually tasted like the sea and was amazing salty and tangy. The egg still had a slightly soft yolk, and a strong soy flavour. The ginger was also memorable - it's refreshingly tart, tangy flavour really cut through the rich stock.

It's not surprising that the ramen tastes so good. Taro's uses quality ingredients - Bangalow sweet pork, nori flown in from Tetsujin Nori (an organic nori harvester in Shichigahama, Japan) and the ramen noodles are freshly made in-house.

If for some reason you get tired of the excellent ramen, Taro's also sells chicken karaage and a few sushi rolls (as well as sandwiches).

If you're looking for something new for lunch in the city, Taro's fits the bill perfectly. It's certainly a much tastier option than many other tired establishments around the city that serve pedestrian food at much higher prices.

Food bling, Brisbane ate as a guest of Taro's Ramen Cafe.

Taro's Ramen Cafe
Ground Level, Boeing House
363 Adelaide Street (corner of Wharf Street)
Brisbane 4000
P - 07 3832 6358
W -

Taro's Ramen Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, 15 February 2010

Raw Milk Cheese

I know its been a very long time since my last post. But I have a good excuse (really). I only found out a couple of weeks ago that I've scored tickets to the World Cup in South Africa in June, which has meant some pretty frantic travel planning. Anyway it's pretty much sorted out now, which means I can get back to putting a few more posts up.

And what better way to start than with the topic of raw milk cheese - rather than explain it myself, here's a blurb which Will Studd has prepared earlier (to use a handy cooking term):

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is seeking public comment on its recently released proposals (P1007) to change Australian Food Standards for cheese in Australia.

The good news is that if these proposals are adopted they will enable the production and sale of raw milk cheeses in Category 1 and 2, as described in the FSANZ Discussion paper in August 2008.


The bad news is that the proposals are very limited and cheeses made from raw milk in category 3, and raw drinking milk will continue to be banned.

It has been 14 years since the Australian authorities introduced a national ban on most types of cheese made from raw milk and raw drinking milk.

Since then FSANZ have granted only very minor concessions to imported hard cooked cheese types, and Roquefort after international trade threats and embarrassing media coverage.

Over six years ago, FSANZ agreed to review our application (A530/531) for a change to allow the production and sale of raw milk cheese, and an application for raw drinking milk.

The delay and past outcomes suggest it is unlikely the latest proposals will change much through rational debate, public submissions or scientific argument. But if these proposals are adopted without a challenge it will be years before there is an opportunity for another review.

Over the past two decades, international artisan and farmhouse cheese production has enjoyed significant growth in demand due to a revolution in consumer interest. Many of these cheeses are made from raw milk and are recognised as having an infinitely superior flavour and authentic regional character when compared to similar cheeses made from pasteurised milk. FSANZ has refused to recognise this trend and these proposals will continue to restrict the types of cheese that can be produced and sold in Australia.

FSANZ are obligated to seek public consultation by regulation on all proposed changes to the Food Standards.

If you think Australian consumers and Australian cheese makers deserve the opportunity to enjoy a complete range of raw milk cheese you can help by making a submission to FSANZ by February 24th.

So if this is a topic you feel strongly about, please make a submission to FSANZ. A friend of mine has put up a page here with a suggested submission (again prepared by Will Studd) - all you need to do is cut, paste and press send on your email. But get in quick - your submission must be in by 24 February 2010.