6/8 Nicole Walk
Haymarket, NSW 2000
It’s no secret that even after 4 years in Sydney, I miss Melbourne as much as I did when I first moved up. Sydney may win by leaps and bounds when it comes to the great outdoors, but frankly I’m more into the arts and culture side of things that is so much more abundant in Melbourne. Maybe that’s why I am such a fan of Darling Square, a newly opened precinct that’s a hub for all things food and entertainment. And it doesn’t hurt that the design is both modern and beautiful either.
There is a myriad of good eateries located in Darling Square, and one that has caught my eye is Hakatamon Ramen. The interior is rather small for such a large shopfront, but it makes the most of its beautiful location with plentiful al fresco seating. And given that it was a beautiful spring day when we visited, sitting outside is no hardship at all.
There’s a rather generous selection of snacks on offer, but Takoyaki ($9, 7pcs) is one I can never pass up. I was especially pleased with generous amounts of octopus in each bite, but I do tend to prefer a higher ratio of takoyaki sauce to mayonnaise, as well as a generous scattering of bonito flakes on top. But all up, this was a good quality plate of takoyaki that satisfied the craving nicely.
The menu runs the gamut from noodles to rice to curries, but this is a ramen-ya after all, and that’s what most people are here for. Their classic White Tonkotsu ($13) with Seasoned Egg ($2.5) is a solid take on the classic. The pork bone broth is smooth and creamy without being too heavy, and the thin, straight noodles come with a pleasant bite. Toppings are a little sparse, but you can’t really complain given the price, and the charshu is decently tender with a good smokiness. The egg however is a little sweet for my liking.
As much as I love the classic tonkotsu, I’m also rather partial to the Bonito Shoyu Tonkotsu ($17), or really any version of tonkotsu that includes a seafood element. The milky pork stock in this case is deepened with the addition of soy, as well as the briny sweetness of bonito. The richer, more complex stock was well-accompanied by the thicker and chewier noodles, and I appreciated that the soup wasn’t too salty for drinking. The additional greens and bean sprouts were a good touch, as they helped to balance out the heavier flavour and mouthfeel. All in all, a good take on what I call the surf ‘n turf ramen.
In a city where ramen is as abundant as it is in Sydney, it’s hard for a place to stand out. However that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hakatamon Ramen may not be any better than the great majority of Japanese restaurants around town, but that doesn’t mean that their ramen isn’t still perfectly good. I enjoyed my entire meal, and certainly wouldn’t say no to dropping by for another bowl of ramen.
Rating: 13/20 – average but good.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.