MELBOURNE | Mr Ramen San Melbourne is yet another ramen place that’s opened up in Melbourne. Located in Mid City Arcade in the CBD’s Chinatown, Mr Ramen San is hidden down a corridor in a low ceilinged part of the arcade – it really is like discovering a hole in the wall food spot in Japan. It’s the brainchild of owner and head chef Head Chef Roystan, who spent several years in Japan perfecting his Kyushu tonkotsu ramen. Regular readers of The City Lane will know that Tonkotsu is my favourite style of ramen, and the best style, in my mind, from which to judge different ramen venues in Melbourne.
The space is small and very authentic. Simple wooden stools and tables, with the ramen master stock bubbling away in the kitchen at the back of the premises for all to see. Service is friendly and efficient, just like in Japan.
Roystan cares a lot about providing proper ramen at his shop. There’s a sign on the wall that states his ethos towards ramen, and one read of this made me feel that I was going to enjoy my meal here. The broth is cooked for at least 10 hours, the noodles are handmade on site daily and if you want a larger than standard serving of noodles, you don’t have to pay extra (not that you need them, the servings are generous), a half egg is included in the base price, not as an option. There are things that are essential, the way it is in Japan, yet not always common in Melbourne. Ingredients are, where possible, fresh and sourced locally.
On the drinks front, a small range of Japanese beer (Asahi, Sapporo), sake and soft drinks are offered. There’s also the option of fruit infused beer – it’s odd, but it is authentic and you’ll find this at many an izakaya in Japan.
Tonkotsu Charsu Ramen ($13.90)
When it’s time to order, the staff are more than happy to go through the choices on the menu. The premise is simple – choose your broth and main topping. I of course had to go for the tonkotsu ramen and wasn’t disappointed. The 10 hour slow cooked broth was thick, creamy, silky and full of pork infused goodness while the large pieces of charsu (roast pork) literally melted in my mouth. Also in the bowl are leeks, spring onion, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, seaweed and of course, the half egg which in this case was perfectly cooked – nice and gooey. The noodles are thinner than the usual ramen noodles but tasty with a nice springy texture. To my mind, this is one of the best bowls of tonkontsu ramen you can find in Melbourne.
Spicy Tonkotsu Spicy Chicken Ramen ($13.90)
Lauren went for the double spice hit, going for the spicy tonkotsu broth and the spicy chicken. The broth here was slightly thinner than mine, and there was a definite spice kick to each bite. It’s wasn’t “I need a glass of water after each bite” spicy but it was definitely hot enough to get a bit of a sweat happening. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Other dishes are offered at Mr Ramen San too. There’s tsukumen, which is similar to ramen except that the noodles and toppings are served separately to the broth and instead dipped in with each mouthful. The remaining broth can then be thinned out and finished off as a soup at the end of your meal. There are also vegetarian ramen options.
You can choose between pork or vegetable gyoza and as far as the pork ones that we tried go, we couldn’t fault them. A nice flavoursome filling and perfectly chewy dough with just the slightest crunch from the bottom of the pan.
Assorted Mushrooms With Natto ($6.50)
We also went for the assorted mushrooms with natto. natto, for those who don’t know, is a slimy fermented soybean concoction. We love the stuff, with its pungent fermented taste complimenting the mushrooms perfectly but for those of you who aren’t game, you can get the mushrooms without natto.
We don’t exactly know where Melboune’s ramen craze has come from, but as long as there are places like Mr Ramen San offering up quality ramen at this level, bring it on. I’ve already been back several times since my first visit.
Mr Ramen San
Shop 12, Mid City Centre
200 Bourke Street
Telephone: (03) 9042 1588
Mon – Sun: 11:00am to 3:00pm; 4:00pm to 9:30pm