Ramen Ikkyu

Shop F1A, Sussex Centre food court, 401 Sussex Street, Haymarket, NSW

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Ramen Ikkyu noodle shop.
Chef Harunobu Inukai plans to produce 150 bowls of ramen every day. Photo: Brianne Makin

Jill Dupleix

Forget about fine-dining chefs going off to flip burgers; the real news is fine-dining chefs going off to cook ramen. Harunobu Inukai, formerly of French-Japanese fusion restaurant Blancharu in Elizabeth Bay, has just opened a ramen noodle shop in the heart of Chinatown.

If you think that's a step down in life, then you don't know about ramen love. This deceptively simple Japanese noodle soup attracts a mystic level of noodle fanaticism, whose nerdy followers can debate the finer points of 15-hour broths, flour-water noodle ratios, and shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) and miso versions for hours on end.

The wipe-clean tables near Ramen Ikkyu at the Dixon Street end of this clean, bright, first-floor food court are already at a premium as local ramenites gather. Ordering via the personal touchscreen pad is both easy (it's ramen, ramen or ramen) and difficult (shoya, shio, or miso?). You can value-add with more spicy black fungus, an extra boiled egg, cha shu (roast pork) or corn, and an extra serve of noodles (kaedama) is free. Once your bowl comes, you help yourself to sauce, minced ginger and garlic, chopsticks, spoons and chilli, and settle in.

Ramen Ikkyu noodle shop.
Ramen Ikkyu's Tokyo shoya ramen. Photo: Brianne Makin

Chef Haru's business plan is to produce 150 bowls of ramen every day, and shut up shop when they have been sold. He makes the broth in vast 160-litre pots from pork and chicken bones, and ages his handmade noodles for two days. The Ikkyu ramen ($10.50) with special salts (shio) is delicate and almost creamy in the tonkotsu style, but my inner nerdy noodle geek falls heavily for the Tokyo ramen with soy (shoyu), with its denser, deeper broth, the oils forming a sticky skin on top that coats the mouth with richness. Marinated, soft-cooked egg, cooked bean shoots, seaweed and distinctively stinky bamboo shoots add extra layers of flavour. The noodles are springy, slippery and firm, and special mention must go to the wondrous, thickly cut pork cha shu with its 50-50 ratio of tender pork to melting fat. Together, the individual components form a balanced whole that one ramen master has described as a ''harmonious contradiction''.

This juxtaposition of complexity and simplicity, the clean lilt to the broth, and the almost religious zeal involved make Ramen Ikkyu the kung fu of ramens, for this nerdy noodle lover at least. May the debate begin.

Do ... get there early before plates are sold out.

Don't … expect any frills or fancy stuff.

Dish … Tokyo (shoyu) ramen, $10.50.

Vibe … Buzzy, fight-for-a-table food court.

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Shop F1A, Sussex Centre food court, 401 Sussex Street, Haymarket, NSW

  • 02 9281 0998
  • Cuisine - Japanese
  • Prices - $6.50 to $12.50
  • Features - Cheap and cheerful
  • Chef(s) - Harunobu Inukai
  • Owners - Harunobu Inukai
  • Opening Hours - Seven days, noon-8pm until sold out
  • Author - Jill Dupleix
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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (2)

13 comments so far

  • Damn you! I was hoping to keep this place a secret

    Commenter
    dh
    Location
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 9:56AM
    • I was hoping to keep the entire Sussex Centre food court a secret :(

      Commenter
      Max
      Location
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 11:30AM
  • I have had the fortune to try the ramen at this place and it was absolutely delicious. It rivals to that of Gumshara's (that's saying something) and the pork belly was absolutely divine! They also use an interesting system for orders, where the customer conducts their own order/transaction on the counter iPad and the server is, more or less, there to receive your money.

    Commenter
    JK
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 10:21AM
  • I happened to go here last Saturday for lunch before the movies and had the Tokyo (shoyu) Ramen - it was absolutely delicious and very filling, especially as you get an extra serve of noodles on the side. For $10.50, you can't go wrong.

    Commenter
    andrewfaith
    Location
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 10:33AM
  • Sounds awful. Give me good old oxtail soup and a well-buttered chunk of crusty bread any day!

    Commenter
    Bradstow
    Location
    Mildura
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 12:18PM
  • I love Kung Fu Ramen on Ultimo Rd.

    Commenter
    Glenn
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 1:11PM
  • Not that great. Bland taste. Only thing going is free noodle(if you didnt finish the soup).

    Commenter
    Victor
    Location
    Sussex St
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 2:48PM
  • Great Japanese Ramen place by Artarmon Station - assume its still there. I would say on of the best of not the best in Sydney

    Commenter
    skip181sg
    Location
    China
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 3:05PM
    • That's Genki Noodles. It was Sydney's best a long time ago. It's since gone a bit downhill (one time I visited and was served ramen all clumped together). Ryo's near North Sydney Boys' High is better and the one next to Sushi Samurai in Neutral Bay, along with Menya, Gumshara, and Ichiban Boshi are also pretty good. Although some may find Gumshara's traditional soup a little thick, their ramen sometimes don't get aged properly and Ichiban Boshi can have off days.

      Commenter
      albertktau
      Location
      Date and time
      July 19, 2013, 9:58AM
  • With all the fat in the eggs and the pork it sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen

    Commenter
    Screamer
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 3:50PM

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