2/1 Market St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Believe it or not, despite having been in Sydney – aka the ramen capital of Australia – for 4 months, I’ve only had one bowl of ramen. Unlike Melbourne, the Sydney summer can be relied on to be consistently warm and humid, which meant I had little to no excuse for noodle soup. But now that the weather is finally cooling down, it’s time to make up for the lack of ramen in my life.
Menya means noodle house in Japanese, and whilst there’s also a reasonable range of snacks and rice-based dishes on the menu, the ramen is the real drawcard. The ordering system is rather confusing – instead of sitting down and having your order taken, or going up to the counter when you’re ready, you’re required to place your order before finding a seat. Given the position of the counter (right by the door), this forms an awkward blockade at the entrance, and a desperate rush to decide what you want after you come in sight of the menu board hanging inside of the restaurant. It’s not the worst thing ever, but you’re probably better off checking out their online menu and working out what you want before you rock up.
Despite a neat 20 varieties of ramen on the menu, the chef’s recommendation of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen ($13.9) was a no-brainer, being my all-time favourite type. The slowly simmered pork broth was rich and smooth, and although others may beg to differ, I like that it was on the lighter side, which meant that I could go ahead and slurp it all up without feeling sick.
The trimmings were equally as good – a well-seasoned soft-boiled egg, crunchy slices of pickled bamboo shoots, and slices of seriously succulent and flavoursome charshu that was among the best I’ve ever had. Where this bowl fell short was in the noodles. Although the thicker wavy noodles used here would normally be my favourite type, it just doesn’t go with the tonkotsu broth – you really need the thin and straight Hakata-styled noodles to soak up the soup, in order to truly showcase the rich and creamy flavours.
The Kushiro Shoyu Ramen ($13.9) on the other hand was entirely on point. The porky tonkotsu broth was replaced with a lighter soy-based broth, and the level of umami from the combination of chicken and seafood was really something to behold. And this time, the curly, toothsome noodles were the ideal choice for picking up the sweet brininess of the soup.
All up, I found Menya to be a solid choice for ramen, but nothing about it wowed me, given how much the ramen in Melbourne has improved in the last few years. However, I did like the feeling of being able to walk in with the knowledge that I’ll be able to get a good bowl of noodles regardless of what I order – something Melbourne hasn’t quite yet managed to achieve.
Rating: 13/20 – solid effort.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.