It happens slowly but predictably this time of year. Over time, the cravings become greater. Then, the occassional fix isn’t enough; I start feeling cold, even irritable. I need it. I need… ramen. My stomach can tell, like the House of Starck, winter is coming, and it shoots neurons to the primordial part of my brain. It whispers: “ramen”, over and over. And I relent.
One late evening after work drinks, these cravings had me zig-zagging the CBD, in decreasing order of ramen preference, trying to find a ramen joint still open and willing to serve me. Though I did find my ramen, it was at a place well below my list and expectedly substandard. The evening ended in bitter disappointment.
Fortunately, there is now one more ramen joint for me to go to and it sits high on the list. Opening yesterday, Ramen Ikkyu in Chinatown’s Sussex Centre is the new venture by Chef Haru (of Blancharu in Elizabeth Bay). My brother and I dropped our prior plans to check it out. We were not disappointed.
Ordering is a novelty… you enter your choices on an iPad with a conductive pen.
As for the ramen itself, we tried the two flavours, the shoyu (soy) and the shio (salt) flavours.
My brother got the Chilli Oil Ramen (shio flavour). The spiciness is very subtle in the broth, which is slightly thicker than my shoyu broth. His salt broth has a stronger upfront flavour while the soy broth is a little deeper with a more lasting after taste.
I got the Ikkyu (shoyu) Ramen. As for the cha-shu pork, the cuts were thicker than other ramen places but Ramen Ikkyu wins out on tenderness. The pork was extremely soft; the fat melted away. The noodles are a bit firmer and bitier than I’m accustomed to but it’s still superb.
As for sides, we got an extra serve of the cha-shu pork and the (free) kaedama, which is an extra serve of noodles. We were stuffed!
Even their condiments were different. Fine grated garlic and ginger was on offer.
The word? Dare I say it? Is this the Gumshara-Killer?! They are different yet both very delicious ramens. Having only had two bowls, Ikkyu inches ahead in terms of its price, ambiance (let’s face it, Eating World where Gumshara is located is pretty scummy) and portion. I will be back if not just to make up my mind, but to have more of the amazing ramen. My brother has already made the call: Gumshara-Killer.
Ramen Raff makes the distinction between the paitan-based Ikkyu and the tonkatsu-based Gumshara on his blog post. Both are great in their own way.