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)
P - 07 3832 6358
W - http://www.taros.com.au/