Review: Ramen Ikkyu (Sydney) and Hakata Gensuke (Melbourne)

A quick review of two ramen places I've been to recently. I had my friend who loves ramen visit me in Sydney and although we originally wanted to go to Gumshara in Haymarket, when we went there, we found that they were still closed for the NY period (this was on the 11th January), which was unfortunate. We then looked up other ramen places around and there are quite a few options that popped up - Menya or Ikkyu were the closest to where we were so we decided to try out Ikkyu. 

Ikkyu is located inside a food court in Sussex centre which is on Sussex street but you can also go in from the back via Dixon Street which is where the pedestrian bit of Chinatown is. Prices are reasonable for a food court location and service was ok. We didn't feel our server was very helpful in describing one of their products (a Summer special which was cold noodles with a dipping broth).  

I ordered the regular tonkotsu ramen for $13. Apologies for the crappy photo - this is just taken with my phone camera.

Ikkyu.jpg

To be honest, I didn't find it amazing. It tasted like regular ramen to me and wasn't anything special. Their egg wasn't particularly tasty either although their chashu was quite soft and fatty if you like that sort of thing. The menma (bamboo shoots) were good but I didn't like the fungus as much - it was kept in chunks and not shredded which made it less enjoyable to eat as you have to bite a chunk off and then get your noodles. (I know, I know, I'm picky)

On the plus side, they provide free kaedama (noodle refill) and also condiments to add to your noodles like ginger, preserved vegetables etc.

All in all, I probably would keep exploring Sydney to try and keep figuring out what my favourite is.

5/10: Meh. Could do for a quick ramen fix.
— M&M food rating

Next up is the famous Hakata Gensuke found in Melbourne! This is actually my second time eating there. I was recommended Hakata by my friend who lives in Melbourne because I told her I like the thin noodles and Fukuoka (Hakata) style ramen. 

Again, apologies for the terrible camera phone picture. This is the original tonkotsu which cost $13 plus an additional $2 for the bean sprouts and cabbage. Gensuke uses the Japanese ramen shop way of ordering - you tick off a piece of paper what you want. You can choose the soup base, noodle hardness and additional toppings which include menma, soft-boiled egg, extra chashu, bean sprouts and seaweed. All additional toppings cost $2 with the exception of the special topping which has chashu, seaweed, egg i.e. all the works which costs $8. 

Personally, I feel that the $2 is a little steep for the toppings but they do give you a good amount of each item so I guess it's reasonable in terms of price. I just don't need such a large amount of topping - just a few pieces of menma will do me, I don't need a heaping mound of them.

I went for the original because I remembered the soup tasted really nice when I went last year. It did not disappoint - the soup was rich and porky and had the right amount of fat (for me). Fatty soup lovers might find it disappointing but it gave just the slightest sticky feel that comes from the collagen in the soup. 

In retrospect, maybe I should have gone for the Shio tonkotsu which is a lighter version of the original since it was a hot day in Melbourne. None of the ramen comes with the flavoured egg which is slightly disappointing but I can live with it since their soup is so good. The original has the black fungus while the shio has menma which I prefer so it would have worked better too but I was greedy and wanted to re-taste the original soup lol. By the end of the meal, I felt really full and even though I wanted to finish the soup, I just couldn't. The additional veggies probably didn't help my case. 

Gensuke also provides free condiments such as preserved veg, garlic, sesame and also free water which is much appreciated. I think they also have a rewards card where they stamp it each time you eat with them and once you get to 10, you get a free bowl of noodles. I forgot to bring Michael's card when I went though T__T 

8/10: Really really good soup and noodles! Would definitely go there again..if only they had something like this in Sydney...
— M&M food rating

Till the next meal or snack...