Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Buddha, Melbourne

Tori Miso Ramen, $13.90

    A short trip back home to Melbourne, but long enough to have some ramen withdrawals. This meant I would have to be on the lookout for a ramen shop. Luckily enough, one popped right up in front of me as we were wandering through Federation Square right in the centre of town along the banks of the Yarra. We chose counter seats so we could get a nice view out the window.

      The restaurant itself was certainly different form anything I've encountered in Tokyo with a much more aesthetically pleasing dining area with many ornamental pieces scattered around. It certainly didn't strike me as an ordinary ramen shop which, to be fair, it isn't. It offers a great deal of Japanese food from udon to curry to sushi. So the atmosphere is much more about dining out rather than a quick slurp during your lunch break.

     We both decided that we would go with the tori miso ramen as it sounded quite interesting with the addition of carrot, red onions and bok choy to more traditional ingredients creating a mystery - 'How is this going to taste?'

     It certainly was different to what I've become accustomed to. The red onions gave it a sweeter taste than what I was expecting but it actually felt like a healthy kind of ramen (if there is such a thing). The soup was perfect for a winter day in Melbourne, but probably a little weak. On a couple of a occasions I came across a clump of miso that hadn't completely dissolved which seemed a little old - Perhaps the soup is made to order?
No matter...

     As I've said before, the beauty of ramen is that you can essentially put into it whatever you like and if you chose to call it ramen, it's ramen. Apparently Chocolate Buddha here follow the same philosophy. It was a great lunch and quite good, but very different to what I call ramen.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

もちもちの木 - Mochi Mochi no Ki, Shiraoka

醤油中華そば(中)- Shoyu Ramen (Medium) ¥770

     As you can see, Mochi Mochi no Ki isn't in Tokyo. The instructions from the car were to look out the right-hand side window until we spotted it, which turned out to be a rather difficult task as the store is pretty inconspicuous with just a small sign barely visible from the street. 

    Despite this, and the fact that we were what looks like a 20 minute walk from the train station, yes,  there was a line. About 8 people outside but the real surprise was the small waiting room just inside the door for about 10 people. Just like a theme park when you think you're almost at the front only to turn a corner and realise that there's another 40 or so people in front of you.

    After about 20 minutes or so we eventually managed to take a seat (not literally a seat) inside the dimly lit, cavernous restaurant. Right next to a folding screen that had been tacked on to the wall.

    After much deliberation I had decided to go with the medium sized bowl since I was feeling pretty hungry. I was surprised by what came though and can't imagine what the large bowl looks like. The solitary chashu looked so lonely floating around the middle of the bowl.

    I should have realised what I was getting myself into as the menu clearly stated the sizes are 140g, 280g and 420g, but it wasn't just the volume of the noodles that made it difficult. There is clearly a lot of water in this shoyu/gyokai soup that comes to you at a hotter than usual temperature. This is one of the points that distinguishes Mochi Mochi no Ki from other ramen shops. Another thing I noticed was that the menma seemed a little more wild than usual and isn't chopped into standard-sized pieces.