Ramen Cravings - once it hits you on a cold winters night, it is the hardest to shake off. I know that when the cold gets into my bones I most certainly become a slave to ramen hallucinations. Some of you may find this familiar.. your sitting at home, minding your own business and watching SVU - then you get a bit chilly. As you search around the home for a spare blanket in the ad break.. you notice a big steaming bowl casually following you and tip toeing around behind you. This is how the ramen cravings creep. You think your safe...but in the blink of an eye that imaginary bowl of salty and eggy noodles has jumped behind you and has got you in a chokehold. There really is no escape now!
I have two game plans to help combat these very common hallucination and I am a firm believer that all cravings must be appeased, imaginary ramen wrestlers have quite the grip on the old chokehold. Gumshara Ramen at the Eating World Complex in Chinatown and Ichi Ban Boshi at the Galleries Victoria CBD are two distinct places where one can conceed to the cravings and get a ramen fix. They are very different from one another and many people are divided as to which they prefer. Admittedly, there will always be a faithful following at each venue.
Gumshara Ramen is traditionally speaking, the more authentic of the pair. This is where the hardcore ramen aficionado's flock to. Before I start waxing lyrical - I need to stop to acknowledge my ramen illiterate readers. Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup. No, it is not "just like fancy maggi two minuite noodles". Ramen is a delicious, salty, hearty, eggy, broth based noodle soup and studies have shown that is the lifeforce of human kind.
Gumshara's legendary tonkotsu broth is an intensive labour of love - pork bones are boiled for days to create the thick, collagen enriched miso base. This thick, cloudy and super rich soup coats each noodle strand and in a matter of seconds you slip into a delicious food trance. if you listen closely you can hear your belly thank you after every spoonful. I was lucky enough to order the pork spare rib with my tokotsu ramen ($14.50) there is a 10 serving limit each day. And of course, to add to the collagen richness I couldn't say no to a gooey soft boiled egg topping.Demos had his eyes on my pork rib slab but was content in the Tokotsu ramen toppeD with BBQ pork ($13) slices and load of chilli oil and flakes.
Beating the ramen cravings one bowl at a time.
Demos was more successful in demolishing the his bowl.
Gumshara is the definition of an unassuming gem of an eatery. Hidden in the back corner of the eating world food court in Dixon St Chinatown, it is no doubt a destination for those being strangled by a monster ramen craving. You cannot deny its authenticity and without a doubt this is Japanese ramen at its finest here in Sydney. Although the super rich broth may not be everyones cup of collagen, I encourage you to try it. The added bonus of having a radiant collagen enriched complexion comes with no extra charge of course.
Across town at the Galleries Victoria is Ichi Ban Boshi - a ramen destination for many city goers. This place has been around for years and I can trace my first visit here to nearly 7 years ago! Each time I visit there has always been a queue of hungry people waiting patiently outside the Kinokunya bookstore foyer. Chances are if you are stuck in the line, the imaginary ramen hallucination that has you in a chokehold would have strangled you already.
Like the boring old couple that we are, we have ordered the same bowl of ramen on each visit. I have the karage ramen with an extra serve of karage (on the side) and extra sweet corn plus my standard extra egg($10.90 without extras). Demos will without fail get the aptly named Very Spicy Ramen (Geki-Kara Ramen) with extra pork($10.90 without extras) Each and every time these two varieties are ordered. The only exception being the ichi ban iced tea - this comes around if we decide on having a sugar hit as its served with sugar syrup!
The very spicy ramen.
Ichi Ban Boshi also offers a tonkotsu broth ramen but I have not been able to part with my standard ichi ban dish to try it. I suppose that is the reason we visit one or the other ramen house. They offer two different takes on the ramen but both tackle the cravings in their own way. The broth served with our selections at Ichi ban are Soy based soups, and are nowhere near as thick as Gumshara's tonkatsu broth. The karage served with my ramen is something I do look forward to especially after a long wait.
The servings are quite large and to this day I have never emptied out a bowl here. I do think that ichi ban appeals to the masses and the constant wait is a testament to this, its been popular all these years although people don't believe that it is hardcore traditional like Gumshara. One thing about Ichi Ban is that the noodles they serve are made fresh on site. The biggest draw card for me and ichi ban is that I can never say no to karage - fried chicken and a big bowl of brothy noodle soup is just a matchmade in heaven for me.
Gumshara and Ichi Ban are quite the polar opposites in location and specialties. Where Ramen purists might frown at the fact that I dare put the legendary gumshara on the same post, Ramen enthusiasts on the other side would be thrown by a thick broth when they are used to the thinner variety at Ichi Ban. Im happy to sit on the fence on this one because whichever ramen craving has attacked you - you'll find the salvation you need in either place.
Lets be perfectly honest now, this post was never about deciding which ramen was better - it was to decide who had the cuter good luck cat.
Gumshara Ramen - Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner
Ichi Ban Boshi - Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner