6/1 Locomotive St
Everleigh, NSW 2015
I’ve made it no secret that RaRa is my favourite place in Sydney for ramen. And if you’re vegetarian or vegan, their sister restaurant Lonely Mouth is also remarkably good. But there’s one thing the ramen gods of Sydney have yet to bless me with, and that is tsukemen, a dry-styled ramen that’s eaten dipped into a concentrated broth. Sort of like soba but warm and way, way better. But with the people behind RaRa being so great and all, I wasn’t wholly surprised when they announced RaRa Chan, a new outpost in Everleigh specialising in tsukemen.
I love Japan just as much as the next millennial, and I was absolutely smitten with RaRa Chan’s getup. The long, lean space was reminiscent of a traditional ramen-ya, whilst the dark wood panelling and dramatic downlights reminded me of a high-end sushi bar. Seating may seem scant but don’t worry, if all 9 spots at the bar are taken, there are also some tables out front, as well as a large communal area out back shared with the nearby eateries.
The menu here is succinct, even by RaRa’s standards. From sides through to mains, there are a grand total of 7 options on the menu, and only two of which are tsukemen. But as it has always been with RaRa, quality, not quantity is the modus operandi.
As good as the katsu curry sounded, I’m here for the dipping ramen, and the Ebi Tsukemen ($19.8) was every inch the part. The grilled pork charshu was pure magic, the caramelised fat giving it an incredible smoky aroma. The egg was likewise top-notch, marinated in sweet soy and boasting a jammy yolk. But it was the noodles that really stole the show. Made to thickness similar to udon, these were incredibly hearty with an unrivalled chewiness, and a subtle wheaty fragrance that betrayed the excellent quality of the flour. They are just what you need to pick up and carry the heaviness of the accompanying broth.
Speaking of the soup, I’m not going to mince words here: it tastes like snorting concentrated prawn heads and pork fat. It is so thick and unctuous that they commissioned specially-made stainless steel stones, heated to 130 degrees on the grill and dropped into the soup at the table, in order to keep it warm enough to not solidify. If you live for seafood (as I do), then this will be the best thing you’ve had for a while. If an obnoxious amount of prawn heads is not your idea of heaven however, then read on…
The main difference between the Ebi and the Gyokai Ramen ($19.8) is the soup. I mean sure, there’s a few small changes of garnish, but let’s not pretend we’re not all mainly here for the noodle and soup combo. And despite looking intimidatingly dark, this stock was actually a beautifully balanced concoction of creamy pork and sweet, briny bonito. Though still robust in flavour, the fish and pork based stock is much less overwhelming compared to its prawn counterpart. They’re both still equally as delicious however, and it all just comes down to your personal preferences.
Oh and, how cute is the RaRa stamp on the eggs! Make sure you chuck it into the stock at the beginning in order to warm the middle up!
I’ve loved tsukemen ever since I first had it at Shujinko, and whilst that is definitely one of the best renditions around, I have to admit that RaRa Chan has toppled it from its throne. You just can’t beat the concentrated flavours in the broth, and both the noodles and toppings were just about flawless. I’m pretty sure I’ve already made it very much clear, but just in case you need it explicitly said: I highly recommend RaRa Chan. Though fair warning – if you haven’t had tsukemen before, this might ruin you for every subsequent bowl you ever have.
Rating: 15.5/20 – nose-full of prawns.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.