27 Russell St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
It has begun. The Ramen Revolution. 2014 blessed Melbourne with two of the best ramen restaurants we have to date – Fukuryu Ramen and Hakata Gensuke. In fact, my hopes have been raised high enough that the thought of a visit to the newest ramen restaurant in Melbourne – Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen – no longer makes me retreat into my shell for fear of being disappointed.
Though a bit hard to find, the result is well worth it. The set-up reminded me a lot of Japan, albeit being a lot less grungy and rough around the edges. The window behind which the chefs work in clouds of steam is the main attraction, but the sake bar and private function room is pretty sweet too.
Whilst waiting for our ramen, we whetted our appetites with a couple of the samples coming out of the kitchen. The first was a pinch of Yakimeshi (normally $12) – Japanese fried rice. The fluffy grains were tossed about in a hot wok with a fragrant mixture of egg and pork, bound together with a savoury smokiness.
Equally as lovely were the Gyoza ($11, 5pcs), its slippery smooth skin burnished to a crisp at the bottom, and holding within it a juicy nugget of pork mince.
From the bar was a Sake Punch – a refreshing combination of sake and apple juice.
There were 5 types of ramen on the menu, and customisation ranged from toppings, to noodle texture, to the amount of oil on your ramen. Going back to basics, I ordered the Ikkoryu Original Tonkotsu ($15) with a ‘normal’ level on all the customisable options. This bowl of noodles took me back to Japan, with its creamy soup and globules of fat glistening on the surface. The toppings were also top-notch; the gooey egg was savoury from being marinated in a soy mixture, and though thin, the charshu slices had an optimum fat-to-meat ratio that melted in the mouth.
The Miso Tonkotsu ($17) was exactly what it sounded like. The addition of miso paste meant that the soup was earthier, and had a thicker mouth-feel that nevertheless still allowed the porkiness to come through.
The noodles themselves were absolutely fantastic. Medium thickness and just a little bit curly, these were toothsome with a lingering hint of bicarbonate – a necessity in any good noodle if you ask me.
So what did I think? Despite the good food, this was a hard question to answer. I thought the noodles were noticeably better than Fukuryu Ramen, but not as tasty as the JUST-LIKE-JAPAN ramen of Hakata Gensuke. Although this puts Ikkoryu well within the top 3 ramens you can get in Melbourne, I just couldn’t get over the pricing. I was nowhere near full after my $17 bowl of noodles, and although the toppings were first-rate, they were rather miserly in terms of portion size. Even more insulting was the price of the gyoza – $11 for 5 pieces! I don’t like to bring price into my reviews (unless it’s a bargain of course!), as I believe that everyone has different standards as to how much a meal is worth, but the prices at Ikkoryu are borderline daylight robbery. Combined with the fact that I can get better noodles for less at Hakata Gensuke, or a cheaper, larger, and still pretty great bowl of noodles at Fukuryu, I don’t think I’ll be back any time soon.
Rating: 13/20 – what a shame.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen.