126 Liverpool St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Yep, it’s still me, I’m still here. Right on the ramen bandwagon. Just a few short days after my last bowl, I found myself craving ramen once again. The folks at Yasaka Ramen understand though; I mean, their motto is No Ramen, No Life – a sentiment I can heartily get behind.
Yasaka ramen is a relative newcomer to Sydney’s ramen scene, but it’s done very well for itself. The lure of slow-cooked tonkotsu broth and noodles made daily in-house drew a large crowd, even on a Thursday night. We ended up waiting just under half an hour, which if nothing else, at least gave us the time to decide what we wanted to try. Unfortunately they no longer had the takoyaki that their online menu had promised, but with almost 20 varieties of noodles on offer, and the choice between shoyu, shio, and miso soup bases, there were plenty of things to tempt.
Just in case you still haven’t picked up on it, ramen is taken very seriously at Yasaka. We were seated at the bar, where we found ourselves teased by the enormous, bubbling vats of creamy pork stock, thick tangles of noodles flying from pot to bowl, and perhaps worst of all, the sight and smell of fatty charshu being caramelised by a blowtorch. The chefs move briskly, but the meticulous care taken with each bowl explained the 30-minute wait for a seat.
Starting off with the classics, we ordered a bowl of Egg Ramen ($16.8) in Tonkotsu Shoyu Base, which is basically your standard charshu ramen with an added egg. Now, whilst I could go ahead and describe the noodles or the toppings, the soup positively screams for attention. It is so thick with collagen that it felt like you’re half eating, half drinking it, the intense porkiness coating every single tastebud on its way down.
Although tonkotsu broth is usually paired with thin noodles, the choice of thick noodles was a good one in this case. It was able to pick up the meaty umami of the soup, without soaking up so much of it so as to render the noodles cloying. The egg and charshu were both more than up to scratch, but honestly? It’s hard to pay attention when the soup feels like you’re drinking down a bowl of liquified pork belly.
For something a little different, I decided on the Grilled Kakuni Ramen ($19.8) in Tonkotsu Shio Base. Although the difference is subtle, the shoyu base was the clear winner between the two. It had a subtle umami that was absent from the shio soup, and provided depth to the flavour profile – something sorely needed when the soup is so prominent.
Not that I cared very much about the subtleties of the soup – I was too enraptured by the kakuni to even think straight. The hearty slab of pork had been slowly braised in a mixture of ginger and soy until meltingly tender, then blowtorched until the fat had caramelised. Each bite was infused with tendon and collagen that had been cooked down into decadent stickiness, adding its flavour to the salty-sweetness of the meat. Seriously, just go and get it.
I made it all the way through the meat, noodles, and about halfway through my soup before I reached my limit. Never before had I gotten meat sweats from ramen, but looks like there’s a first time for everything. And we’re now veering into the territory of things no one needs to hear but, the soup was so rich that at one point after the meal, I felt like it was going to come back up. I definitely needed a lie-down afterwards. Ramen from Yasaka may be something I only get once in a blue moon (I just can’t handle the richness), it was definitely worth trying least once, even if just for the fact that there is nowhere in Melbourne that you can get anything even remotely close to this.
Rating: 14/20 – no kakuni, no life.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.