Japan’s favourite soul food has taken Melbourne by storm. Here’s where to find ten of the best.
One of Melbourne’s first specialty ramen shops when it opened in 2010, Ramen Ya has been joined by a broad field of competitors but remains one of the city’s best. Double down on Japanese deliciousness with their pork gyoza ramen dotted with juicy pork dumplings or try something a little quirkier, such as the curry ramen, filled with katsu chicken curry.
Lower ground, Emporium, 287-321 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; (03) 8609 8173
Dojo Ramen Bar
More like a mod-Japanese izakaya – complete with staff shouting ''irasshaimase'' as diners enter and an excellent list of Japanese beers and saké – Dojo Ramen serves a best-in-show broth (made, they say, with the help of Tokyo ramen masters) as well as thrilling the vegetarian and vegan tribe with four veg-friendly options, including the spicy veggie broth made with nuts and soy milk topped with tofu and spring onions
333 High Street, Northcote; (03) 9482 1247
If the words “24-hour ramen” gladden your night-owl heart, this ultra-authentic city bolthole is for you. Staff fuss over bubbling vats and make endless reams of wheat noodles in order to serve you with a bowl of steaming goodness, milky with collagen and topped with chargrilled char siu (pork).
225 Russell Street, Melbourne; (03) 9654 0989
Little Ramen Bar
Like the name says, this ramen bar is small but it certainly punches above its weight with 10-hour simmered broth and unexpected combinations such as minced pork with miso butter and corn (an Hokkaido specialty).
346 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne; (03) 9670 5558
Yoku Ono Ramen + Sake Bar
Top points for the name alone but Yoku (it translates as “skilfully”) Ono also finds time to deliver a top-notch ramen love-in. The house specialty chicken broth is cooked for eight hours, while the thinner vegetarian broth is no less delicious thanks to the more than 20 vegetables, herbs and mushrooms within. Add extras such as egg and a generous serving of rice noodles.
6a Anchor Place, Prahran; (03) 9521 4746
Misoya Sake Bar
Coeliacs rejoice, for this Brunswick shop has embraced gluten-free ramen. Saddle up for rice noodles in chicken soup with kelp and fish salt for seasoning and when it’s hot outside, turn the temperature down with miso tsukemen, cold ramen featuring chilled egg noodles and chicken-based miso dipping sauce.
165a Sydney Road, Brunswick; (03) 8589 3685
Shizuku claims to make the best ramen in Melbourne. It’s a big call but we’ll forgive the hubris considering they deliver wagyu karubi ramen: broth made from wagyu bones topped with melting slices of chargrilled David Blackmore short rib meat (with a boastworthy marble score of nine-plus) along with their own wagyu jerky, egg and green onion. As they say, it’s the Ferrari of ramen.
309 Victoria Street, Abbotsford; (03) 9995 8180
Queues are common outside the various outlets of this all-conquering and multi-award-winning import from Fukuoka chef Kousuke Yoshimura. Never fear, however: staff are well versed in handing out tick-a-box menus to quell the restive hordes, meaning your ramen will be served almost as soon as you’re seated. It’s most famous for the classic, milky tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, served in four heat levels – beware of the aptly named “God Fire” option.
168 Russell Street, Melbourne; (03) 9663 6342
Shop 4, 860 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn; (03) 9819 2558
Level 1, Westfield Doncaster, 619 Doncaster Road, Doncaster
QV Centre, 200 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; (03) 9650 4579
850 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park
Tucked in a laneway off the main Chinatown drag, Fukuryu melds a smart modern industrial fit-out with a ramen menu leaning both classic (tonkotsu, shoyu) and modern (black ramen, stained with squid ink and seasoned with black pepper and black sesame). Prefer a solid hit of spice? Try the Red Dragon ramen, the hottest on the menu.
22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9090 7149
A leader of Melbourne’s ramen new wave, this slick Smith Street canteen was one of the first to embrace vegan ramen (try the tofu ramen with a white organic miso base, padded out with pickled shiitakes, edamame, sesame and cashew milk) as well as offering deliciously inauthentic Korean-leaning ramen with deonjang paste, kimchi and beef brisket.
329 Smith Street, Fitzroy
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