Wednesday, 22 May 2013


We wanted to get some inside information on ramen, who makes it? How do they make it? And what do they think of ramen in Australia? We arrived late one evening to meet Ko who has been head chef at Condor for about a year. Condor is located near Wynard station and serves a variety of Japanese food with ramen as its main focus. This busy restaurant has been open for 28 years.

Ko was more than happy to chat to us about what he felt were the differences between the way Australians and Japanese people consume ramen and how they make it at Condor. People in Tokyo prefer Shoyu based ramen, whereas "Aussies like a crunchy texture" - so Karage ramen is very popular at Condor and Japanese customers wouldn't go near it. Australians also prefer softer noodles, but Japanese (and other Asian people) consider the difference in texture of the noodles to be very important, they are similar to Italians and like their noodles "al dente". Japanese customers of Condor never choose the "experimental" ramen dishes - they order the regular types: soyu, tonkotsu, salt and mapo dofu (mala tofu). Ramen in Sydney is more varied, whereas places in Japan tend to focus on one type of Ramen whereas in Sydney there is a lot of variety. Condor makes a new broth (soup) every day in summer, but they keep it for 2 days in winter. 

Karage Miso Ramen $13

Finally, we wanted to know a little more about Ko, Where was he before Condor and what is his favourite type of Ramen? Ko used to be a chef in an expensive Izakaya in Japan in Setagaya-ku but worked in many restaurants in Shibuya and Shinjuku before moving to Australia. He personally likes a miso-based ramen and whenever he visits Japan he will go to Kannana Dori in Tokyo to eat ramen. 

We wanted to know, what is the most popular dish at Condor? Ko told us the Karage ramen is the most popular ramen dish with pork belly ramen also being very popular among Aussie customers. Ko invented most of the new types e.g. pork belly and karage. Salmon ramen is another unusual ramen type served at Condor that started from a customer request to put the salmon on a noodle dish. The customer really liked it, so they decided to put it on the menu. At Condor customer feedback heavily influences new styles of ramen. They are very open minded and not traditionalists.

We ordered the Karage Miso and the Tantanmen ramen.  The broth has a mild flavor and the dish has additions of corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, spring onions, and kombu.  The noodles are quite soft and don’t have the same toothiness as some other places.  With the other additions of vegetables the ramen is pretty far from traditional but the corn does add a pleasing sweetness and the others add a nice texture. 

Condor is open Sunday-Friday 11:30am-10pm

5 York St Sydney NSW 2000

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Great Ramen Challenge

Not a feat for the faint hearted.  When the giant bowl of steaming hot soup and noodles first comes out  of the kitchen even the most seasoned eaters are taken aback.  The 1 kilo of noodles, 2 1/2 litres of broth and 300 grams of meat and vegetables is a daunting challenge.  This entire bowl has to be polished off  in 1 hour with no help.  Matt wasn't the only one taking on the famous challenge tonight, he had a competitor on the table next to ours, hoping to take home the prize of a free meal and a $100 gift voucher.  

The ramen challenge music started and Matt started off strong, working up quite a sweat as the steam from the broth began heating things up.  20 minutes passed and almost 1/3 of the bowl had been eaten.  The noodles had begun soaking up the salty broth and became heavy and thick.  Matt powered through and we thought he was going to be able to make it.  Still 40 minutes to go!

But soon his expression started changing and his pace was slowing.  The salty broth was making him thirsty and the noodles were becoming like a brick in his stomach.  There was only 5 minutes to go and Matt started to look a bit sick...

He didn't quite finish all the ramen but was so close with only 1/6 th of the bowl left.  According to the lady who owns Komachi, almost 700 people have attempted the challenge with 26 successfully making the Ramen wall of fame and some doing the chalenge twice.  Next time Matt!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Down a neon lit hallway, Miyama is tucked away from busy George st. We ordered the restaurants speciality the Tonkatsu Tantanmen and the Kim Chee ramen.  The portion size for both dishes were good and the broth for the Tantanmen was creamy and spicy but could have had a little more flavor.  It was topped with crisp tonkasu pork, corn, bean sprouts, 1/2 an egg, and seaweed.  The noodles were crinkly and soft with a nice texture and bite.  

Tonkatsu Tantanmen $10.50

It was a Sunday night so the place was quiet.  The service was great and the people were really friendly.  Miyama has a mall cafe ambiance but a big plus is that this place has free Wi-Fi with the password plastered on the wall.  

Food: 3.5

Place: 3


Shop 12, 849 George St
(732 Harris St)
Sydney NSW

(02) 9212 5350

Monday To Saturday 10:30am - 10 pm

Sunday 11:30 am - 9 pm

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ajisen Ramen

With Thursdays being late night shopping in Sydney, restaurants are usually busy and have long wait times.  We decided on Ajisen Ramen near Chinatown and unfortunately ended up waiting almost 15 minutes for our order to be taken and then another 15 for the food to arrive.  

The waitress recommended the Ajisen Ramen as the specialty. The noodles were straight and a little on the hard side, similar to al dente spaghetti.  They were not cooked enough to my liking and the heat of the soup was not enough to finish them off.  The redeeming element was the broth which was rich, flavorful, and garnished with spring onions, half an egg, and wood ear mushrooms. 

Ajisen Ramen $8.75

The price was reasonable with the speciality costing $8.75 but the service was pretty bad.  

Food: 4

Place: 2


85 Liverpool St 
SydneyNSW 2000

02 9267 8816

Thursday, 28 June 2012


Plain Ramen $11.50

Komachi's speciality is the famous ramen challenge.  They challenge you the cost of your meal and a $100 meal voucher if you can consume 1 Kilo of noodles and 2 1/2 litres of broth in 60 minutes.  Think you are up for it?  The challenge has been going since 2003 with 23 people posted on the wall of fame.  But how does Komachi's ramen stack up?  

Compared to more Ramen specific places the flavour profile of the original ramen lacks a little depth.  It is a miso meat based broth But this isn't a ramen specific restaurant and also has sushi, The miso ramen has spring onions, pork, chinese cabbage, nori, and sesame seeds as extras.  The chili leek ramen has a better flavour, with diced pieces of pork, shredded leek, chinese cabbage, nori, and a chili sauce.  The noodles in both soups were crinkly with a good texture.   

Chilli and Leek Ramen $14.00

The portion size is quite generous and the prices are quite standard.  However it is not really a ramen restaurant so does not have a big selection of ramen to choose from, there are about 7 types. Komachi has a nice quiet atmosphere even on a Friday.  Indoors looks a little like a 90's restaurant so it doesn't get many points for style.  There is also an upstairs area and outdoor seating.  The ladies are friendly and the service is quick.  

If you decide to challenge yourself to eat almost 6 serves of the regular size ramen make sure to book ahead.  You'll need to give them at least a days notice and Fridays are off limits.  Komachi gets extra points for the ramen challenge, but overall the ramen is very standard, pretty tasty but nothing special.  

Food: 2.5

Place: 3

Overall: 2.5

Shop 1, 426 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9319 6554

Open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Friday, 8 June 2012

In Search For Sydney's Best Ramen

To me, ramen has always been those crinkly dried noodles that come wrapped in plastic with a flavour sachet.  I used to eat ramen by the bucket loads it as a child, the Maggi kind, in an artificially flavoured chicken or oriental broth.  

I spent a small amount of time in Japan and while wondering the streets of Tokyo I discovered a small noodle house down a few side streets where I had my first taste of real ramen.  Wheat noodles swimming in a rich meat broth with spring onions, seaweed, and slices of pork.  

There is a whole world of ramen out there with different varieties and styles of cooking.  

 Shio ("salt") ramen is probably the oldest of the four and is a pale, clear, yellowish broth made with plenty of salt and any combination of chicken, vegetables, fish, and seaweed. Occasionally pork bones are also used, but they are not boiled as long as they are for tonkotsu ramen, so the soup remains light and clear. 

 Tonkotsu ramen usually has a cloudy white colored broth. It has a thick broth made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours, which suffuses the broth with a hearty pork flavor and a creamy consistency that rivals milk or melted butter or gravy (depending on the shop).

Shōyu ("soy sauce") ramen typically has a brown and clear color broth, based on a chicken and vegetable (or sometimes fish or beef) stock with plenty of soy sauce added resulting in a soup that’s tangy, salty, and savory yet still fairly light on the palate.

 Miso This uniquely Japanese ramen, which was developed in Hokkiado, features a broth that combines copious amounts of miso and is blended with oily chicken or fish broth – and sometimes with tonkotsu or lard – to create a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and very hearty soup. Miso ramen broth tends to have a robust, tangy flavor, so it stands up to a variety of flavorful toppings.

We are now on the discovery to find the best ramen in Sydney.