Sara Craft Ramen and Bar

Shop 3/391-393 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

This place used to be tonkatsu, but now it’s tonkotsu, in the form of Sara Craft Ramen and Bar. Among the glut of ramen-ya around Melbourne we now have access to, what drew me to Sara was the offering of two types of noodles – a traditional straight noodle, as well as a thicker 2-week aged wavy noodles. Plus, the recipes here are on the non-traditional side, which is always fun when done well. Interestingly, the tonkotsu ramen itself wasn’t actually all that great, despite the quality ingredients. The more experimental options however fared much better, and I would argue is definitely the drawcard. So if you’re after a less traditional, but more gourmet bowl of noodles, then Sara is the place for you.

Rating: 13/20 – for the non-traditionalists.
Now you know: sara, as in SAke and RAmen.

Signature Pork Shoyu ($22) with Umami Egg ($3.5)

The Signature Pork Shoyu ($22), with its tonkotsu base, is a natural pairing with the artisan straight noodles. Now, here’s the weird thing: though this stock is meant to be clear and not too heavy (that’s quoted directly from the chef!), it’s actually one of the thicker ones going. In fact, I would argue that it is actually a very poor pairing for the noodles. Being as rich as it is, tonkotsu is usually served with very thin, straight noodles that have a lot of bite, so that it doesn’t soak up too much of the soup and become heavy. These noodles on the other hand were thicker and softer, and as a result, soaked up the soup like a sponge. Hate to say it, but we lost so much liquid that the noodles actually got really sludgy towards the end.

Signature Pork Shoyu ($22) with Umami Egg ($3.5)

The toppings on the other hand, I have nothing but praise for. The pork was smoky and tender, with the right amount of fattiness, and the Umami Egg ($3.5) was textbook. I also really liked the unorthodox addition of fried burdock root, which added an unexpected bit of texture and interest.

Asari Shoyu ($25)

Don’t worry though, it’s not all bad news here – the Asari Shoyu ($25) was excellent. The clam shoyu broth was beautifully sweet and delicate, and the addition of burnt butter gave it a subtle richness and body. And this time, the slippery 2-week aged wave noodles did a great job complementing the soup. And the plump, meaty clams? The cherry on top.

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