Food Scene: Little Ramen Bar, Melbourne.

Ramen was introduced to Japan by the Chinese in the late 1800s. This bowl of Japanese soul food proved so popular that today almost every locality in Japan has it’s own version. Little Ramen Bar in Melbourne’s CBD was born out of a passion for the authentic Japanese ramen experience by manager Christal Cheng. Cheng’s quest for perfect the ramen, saw her quit her full time job and venture to Japan to learn how to make authentic ramen.

Her dream was realised by opening the quaint, authentic and indeed “little” ramen bar situated across the road from Melbourne’s GPO building. Its intimate confines provide fast, high quality ramen for those seeking a unique dining experience.

The service is brisk once we are seated, and signs of the restaurant’s popularity are the queues that have formed outside, even as late as 2pm. The gyoza, pork dumplings are crisp, light and delicate, with a beautiful juicy pork filling that oozes out upon biting. These tasty morsels are washed down with some warm smooth, fruity Bishonen Ginzukuri Jinmai Ginjo saki for two. Perfect for the cold, weather that has befallen us.

Seaweed salad with fine pieces of carrot, finely chopped seaweed, marinated in sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds offers a refreshing cleansing of the palate in between courses. Kimchi, which is traditionally a Korean sidedish of fermented cabbage infused with chilli, has the right amount of chilli and acidity and is a spicy assault on the tastebuds.

Now for the main signature Japanese staple; the ramen. I’ve chosen a Miso Ramen, which consists of slow cooked pork soup, miso, wheat noodles, slices of pork, spring onion, cabbage, bean sprouts, and pork mince, with the addition of chilli. The combination of all the elements including hearty stock, the right amount of seasoning, rich pork mince floating through the stock, and kick of chilli make this the best ramen I’ve experienced in Melbourne. Even a Japanese patron at the counter was overheard saying he will return.

For those who want to enhance their ramen dining experience there is a variety of condiments that can be added to the dish, such as gooey egg, garlic bomb, corn, beansprouts and chilli. Vegans are well catered for and there are even gluten free noodles. If you’d like an authentic Japanese dining experience, come to Little Ramen Bar, for some very good quality ramen and if you want the experience to continue, watch the cult Japanese ramen film Tampopo , which is one of my favourite films about food. Note how the ramen master eats his ramen with care and you will never look at ramen the same way again.

Little Ramen Bar is a slice of Japan in Melbourne’s CBD and a necessity for food lovers.

Address: 5/346 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9670 5558
Open for Lunch & Dinner, Closed on Sunday.

First published in the AU Review on 24th June 2013

About Anna-Maria Megalogenis 157 Articles
Anna-Maria has been writing for Street Press in Melbourne and Sydney for over 20 years. She is passionate about food, music and the arts, is an avid reader and used to hand write reviews for Beat Magazine at the Great Britain Hotel, where a patron once suggested she was ripping off articles in Rolling Stone magazine.