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