I’ve been to Ramen Ikkyu a few times now but this is the first time it’s been for an occasion. We have an import at work for the next week or so from our Singapore branch who as a fellow foodie we felt it was our due diligence to indoctrinate into Sydney’s wild world of deliciously slurpy Japanese noodles.
Ramen Ikkyu isn’t at all unfamiliar to purveyors of fine ramen joints. Tucked away in Dixon Food Court, it’s a bit of a hidden gem if you don’t know what you’re looking for/are not well versed in the maze of food outlets in Chinatown. But even if you don’t know what good ramen is, do yourself a favour and at least go to a restaurant that specialises in ramen. It’s probably around the same price at some generic carry-all Japanese restaurant and so much more bang for your buck. This is coming from the girl who
sometimes doesn’t eat pork, so I’m finding a huge taste discrepancy even in the shio/soy/miso chicken broth types of ramen.
I grab the Tokyo Soy ramen ($11.50) for a light chicken broth that’s easy on the stomach. Personally Ikkyu’s ramen is always a little on the oily side for me, but this joint goes above and beyond the call of rameggedon for me because not only do they accept my request for something instead of chashu, they substitute it with mentaiko.
Mentaiko is another holy grail flavour from the Japanese cuisine. It’s so fishy, it’s so robust, it’s got a creamy-ass consistency with little tiny crunches of fish roe. I love, love, love mentaiko and if I could only find a supermarket in Sydney that sold it, I would stock my freezer full of the stuff.
Our import and Mark both opt for the same Chef’s Special of Black Garlic Oil and Chilli Oil ($13.50). It’s an impressive sight for hungry eyes with the wafting smell of garlic permeating into the hodge podge of Asian odours that already surround us. Food photography then ensues, “Hey Singapore/Malaysia team, wish you were here”.
The Flying Dutchman gets the Kimchi Ramen ($14.00) because he er, likes kimchi. We’ve bonded a lot over talking about Erasmus, and he shares with me the story of how he was heavily chastised by his South Korean roommate for coming home drunk and eating out of her kimchi jar with a spoon, because the stuff takes her family months to make.
If I’m not mistaken Wendy grabs the Ikkyu Miso with rich and concentrated paitan soup. Paitan is a style of broth that is so thick with fat and collagen that you could probably do a couple of rounds of botox with but the food envy demon stirs within me as I watch her devour ramen that looks infinitely heartier than mine.
There is also gyoza to share but as it’s pork-based I didn’t have any so I can’t vouch for its deliciousness.
Good food and great company makes a perfect dinner. For hours we’re sitting in a dingy food court hall that makes up part of the Chinatown skyline and no one feels compelled to leave. Or maybe we’re just food coma-ing. Either way t’was a good night.