MELBOURNE | Parco Ramen is a new ramen joint in Moonee Ponds. It’s the evolution of ‘Parco Project’, a secret pop-up run out of the kitchen of Shujinko during lockdown by chefs Federico Congiu (Di Stasio) and Manato Deleon (DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar, Shujinko).
Congiu first experienced ramen in Japan over 10 years ago, with work taking him across Japan on multiple occasions, including two years living there. During this time, he ate as much ramen as he could, talking with, and learning from, the chefs at his favourite ramen spots.
In 2016, he started experimenting with his own broths and noodles at home, teaming up with Deleon to form Parco Project. After a huge positive response from customers, post lockdown presented the perfect opportunity to open a bricks and mortar storefront.
The space is small, a communal table surrounded by benches and stools, and a few two seater tables, provide space for 19 people at at time. A small queue formed several times during my visit, but efficient service and quick turnover meant nobody was waiting for more than a 10 minutes for a seat.
The menu is small – eight ramens, plus a few donburi (rice bowls), and izakaya-style snacks. Half of the ramen use Parco’s signature 12 hour tori paitan (chicken broth) as the base. There’s a few other broth options, and a couple vegan varieties. A big umami hit comes courtesy of house made koji. The straight, thin noodles, made with kinako (roasted soy bean flour), have just the right bite and texture.
The lobster ramen, made in small batches, and only when the best quality shellfish can be sourced, is outstanding. It’s made with Moreton Bay bug, lobster oil, koji, dashi egg, spinach, spring onions, nori, sesame seeds and South Australian crayfish. Also worth trying is the yuzu ramen. It features the signature chicken broth infused with yuzu prepared three ways, and delivers exactly the clean, light hit I want when I order yuzu ramen. It bears similarities to the wonderful yuzu ramen I enjoyed at Tokyo’s AFURI a few years ago.
For sides, it’s things like pork and vegan gyoza, takoyaki, kare pan, karaage, and truffle fries. I tried them all, and they all hit the mark.
There’s soft drink and iced tea to drink, and BYO is offered if you feel like something alcoholic (fantastic bottle shop and bar The Valley Cellardoor is 80 metres up the road) Parco offers BYO. When the updated liquor licenses come through, the menu will feature sake and Japanese beers.
17A Hall Street
Telephone: (03) 9370 5972
Tue – Sun: 5:00pm to 9:00pm