28 Mar Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, Melbourne CBD
Ramen restaurants are popping up everywhere in Melbourne these days and I had the opportunity to attend the soft launch of the latest one.
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen is hidden away on a basement level, where Ondergrounds Bar once was. There’s quite a selection of sake and beer on offer, as well as Asahi on tap. Of particular note was the availability of Asahi black – the first time it’s been available on tap outside of Japan.
In attendance and overseeing the launch was Masanori Ogata, the CEO of Y.S Food Co., and Kenji Komuro, the PR Director from Japan. Mr Ogata founded the Yamagoya Ramen chain in Japan and the company now operates over 40 restaurants there, as well as starting franchises in other countries including Taiwan, Thailand, China, Malaysia and the Philippines. Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen is the name of the Filipino-based chain, and this is the brand that has arrived on Australia’s shores.
I was quite impressed with the fit out. It was spacious, bright and funky. As well as a large and secluded room at the back, there is also a more traditional and cosy seating area with sunken tables, hidden behind a set of sliding doors.
We began with some small plates to snack on while waiting for the main event. The crisp and juicy gyoza were quite popular.
The first pieces of karaage we received were a little soggy, but after that they were much improved. I did think they could have done with a touch more seasoning though.
Of the izakaya-style dishes we sampled, the yakimeshi was my favourite. It’s fried rice Japanese style, so with short-grained rice instead of long-grain. It looked simple, but was so very tasty.
The best seats in the house are the ones at the counter right in front of the kitchen. Here you can get a close-up look at the action and can start digging into your piping hot ramen as soon as it’s made.
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen serves the Hakata Chikuho style of ramen – thin and straight noodles with a tonkotsu pork bone broth base. After choosing the flavour, customers are able to customise their bowls with the addition of oil, garlic, green onion, type of pork (regular or belly), type of soy, texture of noodles and toppings like egg, nori and black fungus. Additionally, the first serve of extra noodles can be selected for free.
We both ordered the normal texture of noodles, which were firmer and smoother than the normal texture at Hakata Gensuke. Our ramen was accompanied by gooey egg, thick nori sheets, black fungus, spring onion, bean sprouts. There were also a few condiments such as sesame seeds that we could add to our bowls ourselves. The broth was not as rich as most other tonkotsu-based ramen I’ve had before. The miso flavour was not as intense and heavy-handed compared to other miso ramen, which mum actually preferred.
I absolutely loved the yuzu ramen. It was fresh and peppery and had a lovely and clean flavour profile. The yuzu flavour comes from the use of yuzu koshō; a condiment originating from Kyushu that’s based on chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt. The peppery kick from the yuzu koshō suited the lighter-than-usual tonkotsu broth quite well.
The serving of noodles is not large, so definitely go for the free kae-dama if you’re after a decent meal. There were a few hits-and-misses, but there’s definitely a lot of potential here, especially given this was their very first service.
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen
27 Russell Street
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9650 3708