Ramen for the people

Noodlies, Sydney food blog samples Sydney’s newest noodles

A new ramen joint has the foodies quivering with anticipation. Blogs, online guides and traditional media have alluded to the imminent arrival of Ramen Ikkyu by chef Haru Inukai (recently Blancharu head chef). But Sydney’s Japanese egg noodle conosseur, Ramen Raff beat them all to the punch with his review smack on opening day.

Noodlies popped along in the late afternoon of opening day to avoid the queues. Ramen Ikkyu is in the Sussex Centre (previously Pailou), head up the escalators to the top floor and it’s in the far left corner.  Sussex Centre is one of four bustling food courts in Chinatown and rivals Harbour Plaza’s Eating World for popularity. The arrival of Ramen Ikkyu heralds a new rivalry; a head-to-head showdown with reigning ramen champion, Eating World’s Gumshara.

ramen ikkyu counter

Sussex Centre is arguably the most modern of the Chinatown food courts and Ramen Ikkyu continues the theme with ordering via two self-service panels. And these beige panels are Japanese-cute, rounded and sexy – but look carefully and you’l notice an Apple iPad under the casing. Ordering is simple, but it helps to have a cutesy Japanese host telling me what to do. Having two panels may help speed up orders but the cynic in me worries I’d be stuck behind a technophobe (think ATM lines).

ramen ikkyu touch screen

Despite the food court location, dark paneling, tiles and rich warm browns give the façade an upmarket, inviting feel. The attractive, simple menu displayed with clarity on the LCD TV behind the counter.

ramen ikkyu menu

But what about the noodles?!

Noodlies ordered the  salt based, shio ramen; it comes in a moderate-sized bowl, with the usual side seaweed sheet and runny egg. This bowl is distinguished by the number of tasty additions, black mushrooms which have plenty of crunch and bamboo strips with a remarkable smoky depth. The thickly sliced pork is moist with a nice outer crunch. Ramen noodles are regular sized, lively. The broth is much more accessible than Gumshara, substantial but not gooey, it’s rich, though well short of being overwhelming. Be warned there’s plenty of garlic, vampires will scatter when you approach.

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The best ramen in Sydney?

And so for the elephant in the room… There’s been a spate of ‘best’ food comparisons, best pizza, best Mexican and noodlies is also guilty with Sydney’s best pork rolls (banh mi thit). A state by state food award will be announced soon in SBS Feast Food Awards. Of course, the decision is naturally subjective. Ramen Ikkyu serves up a bowl with distinction; rich and substantial with standout ingredients, the broth is very accessible, rather than being a drawback, the food court environment evokes the hustle and bustle of a Japanese ramen house. It’s great ramen and a credible contender for the best bowl.

Ramen Ikkyu
Shop F1A, Sussex Centre Food Court
401 Sussex St, Haymarket, Sydney
(02) 9281 0998

Ramen Ikkyu on Urbanspoon