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Once upon a wintery night, thehouseofem, susper and myself found ourselves some warmth at the bottom of a ramen bowl at Ajisen Ramen.
*Note. In this instance, the word ‘wintery’ has not been used as an adjective to describe Melbourne’s lousy weather but rather an actual Winter night. This blogger is a little behind…
We were greeted with quite a friendly face at the door. Oh how she beckoned and tempted us with that huge bowl of ramen she was carrying!
Their interior is quite spacious and seems to have been recently revamped. My last visit took place at least a few years back and if I remember correctly, the current design is definitely new and improved. Funny smells that people once complained about were also absent on the night and perhaps gone for good.
Renkon chips - lotus root chips, with green tea salt.
First thing to note and as you can clearly see from the photo, the green tea salt distribution was uneven, resulting in a mix of chips that varied from just right to bland. As with all other green tea salt encounters, the only green tea presence detectable in the salt was its green colour. If some concentration or focus was applied, a very subtle green tea flavour was detectable. Overall the chips rated quite highly as a tasty treat with minimal guilt. Not too oily and made from lotus, it seemed like a somewhat healthy snack…
Ramen for ‘three’. Our ramen may have come in three bowls but with these sizes, there was easily enough for four, maybe five people!
Tofu Ramen (above) - ramen served with tofu, egg & vegetables.
Tan Tan Ramen (bottom) - ramen served with spicy meat, vegetables & egg in Tan Tan base soup.
Spicy Pork Ramen - ramen served with spicy stir-fried pork, egg & vegetables. (With added corn kernels).
Craving some corn, I decided to thrown some corn kernels into the mix. I’ve never had corn in ramen before but the combo worked fine!
While this visit was not my first to Ajisen ramen, it was my first encounter with their ramen. Some good and bad points were experienced but all in all, it definitely hit the spot on a cold night. Cons: the soup base was too oily and tasted very umami, most likely due to a heavy dose of MSG. Not too bad however if you don’t drink the soup by the spoonful. Some of the pork bits were also quite fatty, which further compounded the oily sensation left on the lips. Pros: the spice factor was definitely there in both the soup and the super tender soft pieces of pork. The soy sauce-braised egg was perfect, its flavour worked well with the spiciness and one bite into the egg transported me back to Japan. The ‘ramen noodles’ had me scratching my head; its texture and taste was remarkably similar to… thin spaghetti. The noodles definitely weren’t your traditional Japanese ramen noodles but it still worked!
It’ll be a while before I find myself with ramen cravings but I will most likely revisit Ajisen Ramen in the near future anyway for other items on their menu. Though the word ‘ramen’ features in their name, you’ll find most of the dishes you can order at any Japanese restaurant on their menu. And if I remember correctly, they sure do one tasty omu-rice (omelette rice).
130 Bourke St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9662 1100