Sydney's Chaco Bar is now Chaco Ramen and the yakitori restaurant has moved to Potts Point while Chaco Ramen replaces Chaco Bar on Crown Street in Darlinghurst. So what is the new ramen menu like? There's a customisable ramen where you can choose the level of fat, a yuzu scallop ramen and a FOMO bone marrow curry.
While ramen has always been available at Chaco Bar, Chaco Ramen has a full ramen menu with six types of ramen and snacks. Chaco Ramen's chef Keito Abe hails from Hakata of Fukuoka city in Kyushu where tonkotsu ramen originates. Tonkotsu is a milky, thick pork bone broth based ramen.
There are things that have changed (the menu) but other things remain the same (the queues). Chaco Bar with its 25 seats was always hard to get a table at. Our strategy is easy: eat at 5:30pm and then slide right in.
The only thing is that Garth is running late. Like 30 minutes late from work so Nina goes ahead and orders for him. Usually I order for he, Mr NQN and I but he has now stopped eating pork, beef and chicken.
There is one vegetarian offering on the menu but the rest of the broths, even the seafood ramens have a pork and/or chicken base. There is also the option to change your noodles from a gluten free noodle (konnyaku high fibre low calorie noodles) or gluten free noodle kaedama (a second serving, typical of Hakata ramen). Service is that lovely Japanese style of service.
First, something to drink. It's a yuzu punch for Mr NQN that is refreshingly gorgeous. "What is a chargrilled potato?" Nina asks furrowing her brow. She orders the Tasaki "Devil's Fire" shochu which is made using chargrilled sweet potato.
The Fat Soy is the number 1 ramen and it's a customisable ramen where you can choose your level of back fat. You can get it either with no fat, less fat, normal or extra fat. While I love fat Mr NQN does not so we compromise and get the normal which is actually very creamy with the fat well emulsified. The chashu is gloriously fatty around the edge and there's a half egg, black fungus, shallots and a logo nori sheet that bears their name that is rapidly sinking into the broth. The noodles themselves are made in house and have a lovely springiness to them, something that I really like at my other favourite ramen place Ryo's.
The yuzu scallop is a seafood ramen but with a pork and chicken soup base. There's a Hokkaido scallop in there, a John Dory and prawn wonton that has a very modest (okay tiny) amount of filling, black fungus and leek. There is a slick of oil on top of this and this is less emulsified than the Fat Soy ramen so I keep stirring this one although I do love the soup flavour and how it is different from the Fat Soy Ramen.
I try some of Nina's vegetable ramen made with a tomato broth and vegetables and it's nice and she's certainly a fan but given the choice I prefer the flavour and the creamier mouthfeel of the fat soy or yuzu scallop ramen.
I was excited to try the curry and you can order this with one marrow bone or with extra marrow. Perhaps I've changed but this is too rich for me. It's intense and the beefy marrow is very strong. The beef and potato curry comes with steamed Japanese rice.
I also decide to order the chicken karaage which I had been craving the whole meal but nobody wanted to share with me (the issue when you go out to eat with healthy people!). It comes with togarashi sprinkled mayonnaise and I also add some of the Carolina Reaper miso chilli paste ($2) which adds a gorgeous, sweet heat to it without being too overpowering. The chicken is tender and moreish and I have to really stop myself from devouring the whole serve.
There's no dessert and although the queue has gathered to become quite significant outside there's no hurry to give us our bill. So very Japanese!
So tell me Dear Reader, which level of fat would you choose for your ramen: no fat, less, normal or extra fat? And would you rather wait in a queue or try to dine early at a place where you can't book or do you just wait until the hype dies down?
This meal was independently paid for.
238 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Monday to Friday 11:30am–2:30pm, 5:30–9pm (closed Tuesdays)
Saturday & Sunday 11:30am–2:30pm, 5:30–9pm
Phone: (02) 9007 8352