In the middle of nowhere really, sits a Japanese Ramen restaurant that if you happen to be driving past during lunchtime or dinnertime, you may find a queue of young Japanese people outside waiting for a table. We'd often wonder what was with this place as we drove past perplexed at the eager hordes standing outside. Apparently the only place in Sydney that serves real, Tokyo style ramen, Ryo's noodles marches to the beat of its own taiko drummer. The tables are shared, you help yourself to water, they don't take bookings, its cash only, there's no takeaway menu to be had, yet it still works beautifully.
Tonight is our second visit and I have only one thing on my mind: Miso Bolognaise which I first read about on Grab Your Fork. It was the dish I ordered on my last visit and hoggingly kept to myself abandoning all pretense of sharing and breaking the sacred plate swapping routine with my husband. He wasn't bothered, he was in love with the Ramen with prawn balls in a tangy pork stock soup. On the last visit, we retired to our separate corners of the table huddled protectively over our respective plate and devoured them like we hadn't eaten in days.
However tonight, we're on better behaviour as we have guests, Miss America and Queen Viv. Its 7.45pm and already there's a small queue outside. As they do not take bookings, we have no choice but to join them and the owner lets us know that we may have a 30 minute wait. Luckily the food gods are looking favourably upon us and they seat our table of 4 within 5 minutes. Seated at the table towards the back we have a good view of the restaurant and when I look to my left I see some autographs from various Japanese sporting celebrities (I had to ask, I would be the last to know sporting celebrities, Japanese or not) but also a familiar looking signature, that of Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai who has a lovely abstract signature/drawing and who visited Ryo's on the 15th of April 2005. We discuss this with the owner who says that he often gets Chinese politicians and celebrities but he largely has no idea who they are, preferring the sportspeople (his pride and joy being the signature of a Japanese kickboxer).
We ask him what's good, and he suggests combining items number 2 (Ramen Noodles in a Soy Sauce Pork Soup $10) and 3 (Ramen Noodles in a Spicy hot Pork Soup $10) in a special order. Sounds good to me. We also order Tokyo style ramen ($9.50), Miso Bolognaise ($11), spicy deep fried chicken wings (3 for $4), rice ball with roast pork ($3.50, only 10 of these are made per day!) and, with Queen Viv's urging of "Craaaaaab!", the soft shell crab ($5).
A scant 5 minutes later and our large steaming bowls of noodles with stiff nori sheet sails arrive to a grateful and hungry mob. We are sharing tonight and have two bowls of the Combination 2&3 ramen and we dig into the noodles, depositing long noodles into our smaller bowls with spoonfuls of the scarlet tinged soup. The thin slices of BBQ Pork floating on top are soft and delicious with a ring of fat around one edge. The soup is fantastic, earthy and rich, full of the marrow from pork bones and slightly spicy. The noodles as always, are toothsome perfection, with the absolute correct texture.
The Tokyo Ramen has slices of BBQ pork on top too but the stock is a soy sauce based one and its lighter and less hearty but still flavoursome. The soy sauce boiled eggs are appropriated by an appreciated Miss America and my husband who adore them. I'm too busy with my favourite dish, the Miso Bolognaise.
I've never seen this dish at any other places and it deserves a special trip just to have this. Even if you're not a huge fan of miso soup like me, this is gorgeously rich, the miso giving it the sauce a smoky mystery and not that overpowering saltiness that miso soup verges into. Miss America loves it but feels that she couldn't eat a lot of it as its so rich. I disagree knowing full well that I ate a whole bowl of it to myself.
Our smaller dishes arrive as we're slurping our noodles appreciatively. The soft shell crab is a whole small soft shell crab beautifully deep fried to a crisp. As I find with all crabs, it looks slightly peeved at us and I wait until Queen Viv pulls it apart before eating it.
![Ryos Noodles Crows Nest-Spicy deep fried chicken wings (http://images.notquitenigella.com/images/ryos-noodles-crows-nest/a-chicken-wings.jpg)
The spicy chicken wings are good and there's a resounding earth shattering crunch as we bite into them and a slightly spiciness. However the rest of the table seems more absorbed in the noodles to pay any attention to these.
The rice ball filled with Roast pork is still one of my favourites. Nothing flash or showy, its comforting snack food with deliciously roasted pork shards and sesame seeds sctattered throughout, not just in the centre. Its hard to portion up into 4 so everyone just helps themselves to a little bit in favour of the ramen so I take the rest of this delicious rice triangle.
Leaning back, patting our stomachs contentedly we marvel that for once, we haven't over-ordered. Then spying the 6 people waiting inside and 5 outside, we make a quick exit, stage left.
125 Falcon St
Crows Nest 2065 NSW
Phone: +61 (02) 9955 0225
Thu-Tue noon-2.30pm, 5pm-9.30pm