MELBOURNE | Japanese ramen chain Mensho’s first Australian outlet has been grabbing all of Melbourne’s ramen attention since opening in July. There’s another new ramen spot in the CBD, however, that opened up last month. It’s been operating under the radar in these early weeks, but given how good the food was that I enjoyed while visiting for What’s On Melbourne this week, that won’t be the case for long.
The venue is Sara Craft Ramen & Bar, in the space that used to be home to tonkatsu specialists Gypsy and Pig. Kagawa-born Iron Chef protégé and French fine dining trained Ryo Northfield is co-owner and head chef of Sara. In the kitchen, he’s cooking up a selection of ramen and a few other dishes that showcase his skill and creativity.
On any given day you’ll find around six ramen on the menu. There’s a core selection, plus a few rotating options. All apart from the vegetarian option use a shoyu base, and are lighter, more delicate than you might be used to. Each comes with one or two optional additions like onsen egg, and a choice of traditional or thicker, wavy noodles.
I sampled three bowls, each distinct and worth a try. The signature tonkotsu, with chashu pork belly, fried gobo chips, and spring onion; yuzu duck, with bright citrus notes, and duck breast; and a clam ramen with hints of burnt butter. I also had a few sips of the spicy tonkatsu broth which might be my favourite of the lot. It’s big on flavour, with a balanced, rather than in-your-face heat.
For non-ramen dishes, it’s a selection of things like donburi (rice bowls), raw, and cooked small plates. The aburi wagyu sushi, served with wagyu stem, is outstanding. I also highly recommend the salmon yukke – salmon tartare with taro crisp, wasabi sauce, and onsen egg.
To drink, it’s non-alcoholic beverages at the moment, while liquor licensing is finalised. Once that’s come through, there will be local wines, cocktails, Japanese beer, and an selection of premium sake and Japanese spirits.
Sara Craft Ramen & Bar
Shop 3/391-393 Little Lonsdale Street
Mon – Fri: 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Sat – Sun: 11:30am to 8:30pm