Battle of the Chinatown food court ramen
Noodlies, Sydney food blog checks out the newest ramen stall in town
Since February 2009, Gumshara in Eating World food court reigned supreme as the king of ramen. Chef Mori Higashida is one formidable ramen master, thickening his tonkotsu stock by boiling up to 200kg of pork bones a day and transferring stock them between three huge pots. Sydney lapped up his uber-collagen enriched stock
Just like the 4th of July (and on the 4th of July), along comes Ramen Ikkyu, exploding onto the ramen scene, complete with self-service iPad kiosks and free kaedama, attracting long queues, some days selling out by dinner. Less than two weeks later arrives Hakata-Maru Ramen in Market City food court.
Yes, it seems like ramen is firming as a food trend, joining Mexican, burgers, Americana…
Hakata-Maru Ramen’s exterior pays homage to Japanese noodle houses with stylised roof eaves and delicate wood, paper walls and flying noren. It’s easily the most attractive looking of the current crop of food court ramen stalls, wide frontage and low counter really makes you feel like you’re stepping inside a ramen house. Orders that are shouted out by friendly Japanese staff only add to the theatre. Market City is the newest and most spacious of the four Chinatown food courts, with plenty of natural light, it feels the most comfortable, too.
Hakata is a lighter ramen stock that’s closer to Ippudo than Gumshara – although hakata can be ordered at the latter (the stock comes from pot 2 instead of pot 3). It’s a deliciously simple process to order, there are five choices:
- White: original base
- Red: spicy miso
- Black: dark garlic oil and fried garlic flakes
- Chasu: extra pork belly
- Prawn: and extra vegetables
From $7.80 it’s jaw-dropping value, though the bowl is noticeably smaller than Gumshara. Noodlies opts for red tonkotsu - it’s not as thick as Gumshara but still has plenty of depth, aided by chilli that’s spicy but not overwhelming. Thinly sliced pork is on the plain side, while ramen noodles are thin and lively, both work well with spiced hakata stock. The egg is the only disappointment lacking the gooey-creaminess which normally makes them such a highlight.
A bowl of Hakata-Maru Ramen is a delight for the eyes, belly and even more delicious for the wallet because of their crazy-low prices. Those who love their stock lighter and still full of flavour will love this place.
Level 3, Market City
9-13 Hay St, Haymarket
(02) 9281 6648