21st April 2016
333 High Street
Northcote, VIC 3070
When it comes to comfort food, my hands-down favourite is noodles. That combination of soup, carbs, and slurping answers all of life’s difficult questions for me. As for my choice of noodle… well that tends to vary depending on my mood, but you’ll often find pho or ramen sitting at the top. And just when I thought I’ve had more or less all the good ramen Melbourne has to offer, I come across The Dojo Ramen Bar, located in Northcote of all places.
Although touted as a ramen bar, The Dojo is really more reminiscent of an izakaya, complete with a quaint little beer garden out back. The pop culture posters on the walls give what would be a traditional Japanese space a more casual and western flavour.
The Butter Squid ($10) sounded like a great idea on paper, and was just as good in reality. The moreishly chewy rings of squid were pan-fried in a combination of butter and soy, then scattered with scallions and shavings of onion. And if the rich flavours get too much, there’s always the wedge of lemon on the side.
There was no tonkotsu on the menu, but there was still plenty to tempt the tastebuds. The Chilli Miso Ramen ($13.5) boasted a creamy soup that was earthy and slightly spicy, and a selection of classic toppings. The three generously-sized pieces of tender charshu were shot through with indulgent streaks of fat, and the soy-marinated egg was gooey and flavoursome. I especially appreciated the addition of crunchy bamboo shoots – a topping that is far too under-utilised if you ask me.
As good as the Chilli Miso Ramen was, it was overshadowed by the Shoyu Ramen ($13.5). The broth in this ramen was absolutely delicious, the dark soy underscored by a rich, umami base of pork stock.
Unfortunately, these wonderfully thick, bicarbonate-heavy noodles were cooked just a minute or two past al dente. This was an awful shame, as it was the only thing preventing this from being more or less a perfect bowl of ramen.
After the disappointment at Shop Ramen, I honestly hadn’t been expecting much from The Dojo Ramen Bar. Thus, I was extra pleased to discover not only a decent bowl of noodles, but what may possibly be the best shoyu ramen I’ve had to date. Mind you, I was pretty hungry at the time, so I can’t promise that my opinion is entirely unbiased. Maybe I need to pay The Dojo Ramen Bar another visit… for research purposes of course.
Rating: 14/20 – black belt.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.