Winter Warmers: The Best Ramen Joints in Melbourne
Hot, soupy and soul-reviving – there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of ramen to cure all those ghastly winter ailments. And although we're thousands of kilometres from Japan, there are plenty of dedicated ramen bars in Melbourne serving authentic bowls of the stuff. From rich tonkotsu broths to summery chilled ramens, when the cravings hit, head down to one of these spots that happen to be serving the best renditions in the city.
This bright and buzzy 30-seater in Carnegie is a favourite with ramen lovers in the south-east, serving hearty bowls of chicken and pork-based soups simmered for 10 hours to achieve maximum intensity. While these signature bowls are a surefire winner, during summer, we can’t go past their soup-less ramens. Tossed in a rich, savoury sauce, they're topped with everything from spicy pork mince to crunchy chicken karaage.
73 Koornang Road, Carnegie
Here for your post-work dinners, weekend lunches and late-night escapades is Shujinko, a 24-hour ramen bar that’s straight out of the back alleys of Tokyo. At any hour of the day, you can sink into a bowl of their soul-reviving miso or tonkotsu ramen. But your interest will be piqued greater still by their speciality black ramen, which sprinkles the broth with a umami-laden shellfish powder to give it an intriguingly dark hue.
225 Russell Street, Melbourne
427 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
A perennial favourite with the inner north hipster crowd, Shop Ramen started out as a 10-day pop-up but quickly cemented itself in the hearts of Melbourne’s ramen lovers with their unconventional bowls. You can spike your ramen with additions like yuzu oil, melted American cheese and jalapenos, but their vegetarian ramen is a standout. A creamy sesame broth topped with a cornucopia of tofu, kale, pickles, pea shoots, edamame and marinated egg. You can also order a boozy umeshu and whisky milkshake, or finish your meal with an ice cream pie.
329 Smith Street, Fitzroy
143 Plenty Road, Preston
This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ramen bar may be little, but it punches well above its weight with robust soups you’ll return for again and again. They serve a variety of styles including classic tonkotsu, spicy miso and shio chicken. By far, their most addictive bowl is the fiery tantanmen, which infuses the soup with brow-mopping chilli and spicy ground pork.
5/346 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Ask any Melburnian where to find the city’s best ramen, and they will direct you straight to Hakata Gensuke, a local institution that draws a crowd daily. Hungry diners eagerly await bowls of their signature tonkotsu, a thick, collagen-rich pork bone soup served with springy thin noodles, tender pork chashu, wood ear mushrooms and spring onions. It’s super hearty ramen that’ll leave you fortified (or comatose) for the day. For the seasoned slurpers, there’s a black garlic spiked-number and super spicy ‘God Fire’ version that lives up to its name.
168 Russell Street, Melbourne
While we’re ramen devotees all-year-round, Melbourne’s hot summer days often call for something lighter than a steamy bowl of tonkotsu. That’s where cosy Prahran bar Yoku Ono’s chilled ramens come in. Noodles are soaked in broth to imbue them with flavour, then left to cool before being served with fresh tuna sashimi, wasabi dressing or miso scorched tofu and carrot ginger dressing. Light, wholesome and delicious, they’re one of our top picks during the warmer months.
6A Anchor Place, Prahran
This homey diner at the end of busy Smith Street has won a loyal following for its wholesome pescatarian and vegan fare. Their ramen soups are entirely plant-based, yet offer a superb depth of flavour. They do three varieties including a soy sauce-based broth, a spicy tofu number and our favourite, the creamy tan tan ramen enriched with sesame and soy milk. Every bowl comes topped with an assortment of mashed tofu, pickles and wood ear mushrooms, while gluten-free diners are looked after with the option of swapping wheat for rice noodles.
83A Smith Street, Fitzroy
At Mensousai Mugen they specialise in tsukemen, a dipping ramen where your noodles and soup are served separately. Bouncy, wholegrain wheat noodles arrive alongside a bowl of thick dipping broth – an umami-full base made by cooking pork, chicken and dried fish for a marathon 48 hours, before seasoning with your choice of dashi and soy, sesame or curry. It’s a fun and even more flavourful way to enjoy your ramen, and when you’re done, you can top up the rest with a light dashi broth and drink it as a soup.
11 Bligh Place, Melbourne
Hidden down a Chinatown laneway, this spacious 70-seat ramen bar is an exercise in efficiency. Diners order as they walk in, meaning their steamy noodle bowls hit the table within minutes of sitting down. While they serve all the usual suspects, their ‘modern’ ramens are what make them a destination. The Black Dragon seasons their tonkotsu broth with squid ink and black sesame, while the Junk Ramen is a soupless number that tops noodles with chopped pork belly, cheese, yuzu mayo, nori and a sunny side up egg.
Level 1/22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
At most noodle joints you’d be lucky to find one vegetarian option, but at this rambunctious Northcote spot, you’ll find four flavourful choices. From a deep miso broth sporting a touch of garlic to a creamy veggie soup fortified with nut extracts and soy milk. Have a crack at the vintage Nintendo console as you wait for your bowl, while the courtyard out back makes for balmy summer slurping.
333 High Street, Northcote
While ramen is traditionally known as a quick, everyday food, Abbotsford’s Shizuku isn’t afraid to put a deluxe spin on the humble dish. Their wagyu karabi ramen features a broth made from wagyu bones, and it's topped with chargrilled David Blackmore 9+ sliced short rib, chopped wagyu jerky, soft boiled egg and shredded onion. The self-proclaimed “Ferrari of ramen” will set you back a pretty penny ($35), but is well worth ticking off your foodie bucket list.
309 Victoria Street, Abbotsford
The name Ippudo is synonymous the world over with ramen, from their first store in Fukuoka, the birthplace of tonkotsu (and a tourist attraction in its own right) to over 150 stores across the world. They finally arrived in Melbourne last year, and it’s been well worth the wait. Their signature Hakata-style ramen is a super-rich pork bone broth. Cooked for 18 hours, it clings to the thin, chewy noodles which you can customise the hardness of to your liking.
18/300 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Bucking the trend towards more substantial tonkotsu broths is Misoya in Brunswick, where they use a miso-based chicken stock that’s rich in flavour but much lighter on the palate. Springy noodles topped with a wobbly soft boiled egg and slices of slow-cooked pork belly - a perfect winter warmer that you can polish without feeling weighed down afterwards.
165A Sydney Road, Brunswick
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