I can't seem to get enough of ramen nowadays. I didn't eat it all that much when I lived in Tokyo but now that I am so many miles away, I think I somehow get the urge to recreate some of the memories from my time there and ramen seems to do the trick. Luckily my husband is also a ramen lover. I had read about Menya ramen and it was a recommendation from a NQN reader KLL.
The Prince Centre is a haven to choose from and not for the terminally undecided. We walk in and are greeted by the traditional "Irrashimase!" which always manages to both startle my husband and make him smile. Having pre researched what I wanted to order, we place our order for Tori Katsu ramen $9.90 (Tonkotsu noodle soup topped with deep fried chicken cutlet, boiled bean sprout, vegetarian fungus and sesame), the Chilly Hot teriyaki Beef ramen $9.90 (Tonkotsu noodle soup topped with teriyaki thinly sliced beef mixed with vegetables, served with boiled bean sprout, sesame and chili) and get my two stamps and am on my way, albeit quite far away, to qualify for the free "Monthly Dish" when I order 20 noodle or rice items (after 10 items you can get a free soft drink).
All of their ramen soup stock is Tonkotsu (based on pork bone) which I adore, its thicker, gelatinous consistency providing much needed comfort and sustenance. Just out of curiosity, we try the Buta Mayo Gohan $3.50 (Chopped roasted pork, mayonnaise, dried seaweed, shallot, sesame served on top of a small bowl of rice). The decor is nicer than most ramen places, its modern black and white with curiously, an entire wall full of what looks like twisted up coat hangers although they're not quite the safety hazard they look as they are springy when touched-a Picasso style mattress inner spring. Prices range from $6.50 for the "plainest" ramen with BBQ pork slices to $9.90 for ramen with much more substantial toppings like the Katsu which we've ordered. There's also soba, udon and bento boxes.
![Menya Ramen Pork Mayo rice (http://images.notquitenigella.com/images/menya-ramen-at-haymarket-chinatown/a-menyaporkrice.jpg)
While waiting, we check out the heavily staffed and busy kitchen. There are enormous vats of the Tonkotsu stock about 1 metre tall being stirred with a huge stick. We don't have to wait long for our meals, it seems to high amount of cooks means that one need not wait very long to eat. Our Buta Mayo Gohan arrives first, a fairly decent sized bowl of rice topped with finely chopped dried seaweed, shallot and sesame on which tender, flavoursome chopped pork sits artistically splayed with mayonnaise. Its filling and delicious for $3.50 the best value meal you can get. Forget McDonalds or any other fast food, this is the way to dine for $3.50.
The ramen arrives next, the Chilly Hot Teriyaki Beef ramen is mine and I dig in with my spoon (which breaks halfway, not my fault Your Honour! I didn't heap on too much ramen I promise!). The teriyaki beef slices are wonderfully soft and sweet and this imparts a sweetness into the rich pork stock. The chili is a perfect counter to the sweetness and saltiness of the teriyaki and I eagerly help myself to more than my alloted half of the bowl.
My husband's Tori Katsu ramen looks good although soon after the pieces are swimming in the ramen, losing the crunch. I fish out two pieces from on top to try and its good although as its chicken, its missing that flavour that you get from Pork Katsu. Not to matter, I squirt on a sqiggly line of hot chilli sauce which gives it a boost and I'm happily enjoying them. I try some of my husband's soup but after the chili, sweet and salt fest of mine, it appears a litlte bland by comparison. He loves his though as he is finding mine too sweet and I love mine so for once, our bowl swap only lasts a minute. As for the million dollar question, how do the actual noodles stack up against Ryo's Noodles? Well of course, Ryo's wins again for the ramen itself but Menya's Tonkotsu broth is definitely my style.
I'm beat, with the pork mayo rice and my sizable bowl of ramen I can only finish 1/2 of it. My husband valiantly tries to finish it but the hot weather, lack of decent air conditioning and finishing his own dish means that he can't quite make it either. We leave our communal table and good timing it is as there is a crowd gathered at the window deciding what to order and inside the door. We go for a walk to walk off some of the ramen and come across a man cutting out peoples profiles for $2 a piece just near Emporer's Garden and doing a rather great job at it too. He has a line snaking down the mall. He's rather popular too you see.
Tel / Fax : +61 (02) 9212-1020
Shop TG8, 8 Quay Street Haymarket NSW 2000
(Entrance from Thomas St., next to Burlington Centre)
Open Mon-Fri Lunch:11:30am - 3:00pm, Dinner:5:00pm - 9:30pm
Sat & Sun Lunch:11:30am - 4:00pm, Dinner:5:00pm - 9:30pm