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And just like that, another one of Laiwah’s return visits to Melbourne has come to an end. It seemed like it was only yesterday that our Japanese tourist friend greeted me with open arms in front of Little Ramen Bar, and already, her three week visit has passed in a blink of an eye! And wow, did we end her visit with one massive food adventure, but more on that later. For now, let’s go back to our first food adventure, which took place three weeks ago at Little Ramen Bar.
Having heard much about their crazy queues and witnessing it myself when I walked by the Little Bourke St restaurant a while ago, I tried my best (but failed) to get out of uni early. Fortunately, Laiwah had arrived earlier than Meow Meow and myself, and was able to start lining up. By the time I had arrived, we were seated within 10 minutes. Win!
It’s not difficult to see why the place is always busy: the venue is extremely small, with just under 30 seats available.
Homemade gyoza dumplings - pan fried pork and vegetable dumplings.
We started our meals on a high note, consuming one of the best gyoza dumplings I have tried to date. The skins were silkily delicate, contrasting greatly with the one side that was crispy from pan-frying. And while I’ve encountered this quality previously with some of the gyoza dishes from other Japanese restaurants in Melbourne, it was the filling that blew me away. The pork mince was tender, and the pork to veggie ratio was perfect - with just a little more of the former to the latter. The pork was flavoured by the aromatic combination of chives and ginger.
Going by their gyozas, I had high hopes for their ramen…
Charshu tamago ramen - classic tonkotsu ramen, topped with extra slices of BBQ pork and a gooey seasoned soft boiled egg, plus a side of corn.
Classic tonkotsu ramen - their original tonkotsu soup, topped with seaweed, bamboo shoots, spring onion & BBQ pork, plus a side of egg and garlic bomb (crushed garlic).
Miso ramen - housemade miso, combined with their slow-cooked pork soup and mixed vegetables, topped with BBQ pork, spring onion and roasted sesame seeds.
I tried Meow Meow’s and Laiwah’s ramen, and preferred them over my own miso ramen selection. The classic tonkatsu base was particularly flavoursome, especially with the garlic addition.
There’s a reason why miso soup usually comes in a little bowl, and this dawned on me as I ate my way through my bowl of ramen. The miso flavour is great in small doses, but my taste buds soon grew bored of the flavour. Their ramen had a great chewy consistency, hitting close to the hand made ramen noodles I had tried back in Japan. The pork was super tender, but one slice was not enough! And lastly, the egg… my gosh, that egg… the yolk was perfectly runny, and the exterior was doused in soy sauce flavour.
While my selection of the miso soup base was a bit of a miss, I would happily return for the gyozas, runny egg and the tonkatsu soup base (plus the garlic bomb).
Little Ramen Bar
346 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9670 5558