Ramen Zundo

Shop 10.30 World Square, 644 George Street, Sydney, NSW

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Fast food with class: Zundo Red with optional egg.
Fast food with class: Zundo Red with optional egg. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Sally Webb

Our waitress apologises as she brings a steaming bowl of ramen to the table. ''Thank you for waiting,'' she says. It's been four minutes since we ordered, paid and sat down. Hardly a wait, and we're delighted with the efficiency, especially with a hungry eight-year-old in tow.

It's a special night out for Archie - not only because we've left his sister at home. We're heading to a concert at the Opera House, so getting fed quickly is a good thing.

Only a couple of other tables are occupied when we arrive at Ramen Zundo, at the Liverpool Street side of the labyrinthine World Square complex. Less than an hour later, there's a queue out the door.

Japanese soul food: Ramen Zundo at  World Square.
Japanese soul food: Ramen Zundo at World Square. Photo: Marco Del Grande

The restaurant is an attractive, well-designed space, with a wall of red and white paper lanterns at the entrance.

Owners Hiroki Nagao and his wife, Masako, are no strangers to Japanese fast food, having previously run Sushi Fusion in Randwick and the city. Ramen Zundo is their first foray into what they refer to as Japanese soul food.

Our three soups are brought to the table one by one, each with the same cute apology. The waitress thoughtfully offers Archie a fork in addition to the chopsticks and spoon. Frustratingly, the appetisers we've ordered - pan-fried gyoza with a chilli-laced ponzu dipping sauce and crisp, deep-fried pork and vegetable spring rolls - arrive after we've started on the soup, which momentarily puts Archie into a lather of not knowing what to eat first.

Zundo White is the signature ramen. At its base is a richly flavoured tonkotsu broth - inspired by those from the Kyushu region, as well as ramen enclaves in Tokyo - made by simmering pork bones for more than 12 hours.

Gloriously tender slivers of chashu pork belly (which is boiled then marinated overnight in a secret sauce), squares of nori, spring onions and bean sprouts nestle on the surface, while fine house-made noodles are submerged beneath. You can up the aromatics with Zundo Black, laced with roast-garlic oil, or up the heat with the Zundo Red. The chilli in the latter adds a wonderful spiciness to the rich broth.

Hiroki, who learnt to make noodles in Japan, uses a blend of premium Australian flours to create a texture that's silky but firm to the bite and ''catches'' the soup.

Pork and chicken broth are combined with dried niboshi sardines in tonkotsu niboshi ramen, a delicate, aromatic soup with an underlying pungent fishiness from the sardines. Topped with half a boiled egg, bamboo shoots, and more melt-in-the-mouth chashu pork, it's a satisfying, warming dish.

The menu features donburi (rice) dishes, with protein heroes including chicken katsu and teriyaki salmon, as well as a selection of Japanese curries, but it's the soups that are the stars here.

What Ramen Zundo lacks in size, it makes up for in speed and flavour. This is Japanese fast food with class. No apologies needed.

Do … Order what you want to eat first, then go back to order more. The service is so swift, it will end up all arriving at the same time.

Don't … Over-order; the regular-size soups are large. If you're keen to try a range of dishes, order a smaller portion or a ramen set.

Dish … Zundo Red.

Vibe … Bustling, with tables turning often. A place for great-tasting filling food served with speed and efficiency.

The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 is on sale now at selected newsagencies, bookshops and at The Sydney Morning Herald's online shop (thesmhshop.com.au).

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Shop 10.30 World Square, 644 George Street, Sydney, NSW

  • 02 9264 6113
  • Cuisine - Japanese
  • Prices - Appetisers, $2.20-7.90; ramen and soups, $11.80-$13.80; curries and donburi, $6.80-$12.80; desserts, $3-$3.80; BYO, $2 a person.
  • Features - BYO, Cheap and cheerful, Family friendly
  • Owners - Hiroki Nagao , Masako Nagao
  • Opening Hours - Daily, 11.45am-9pm
  • Author - Sally Webb
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5 comments so far

  • Err - no, don't order what you want first and then order more - it's not an Izakaya it's a Ramen joint. Order what you want, eat it when it arrives and then leave . God forbid precious Archie might get his knickers in a twist!

    Commenter
    3FS
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 03, 2013, 2:01PM
  • That is when the gyoza are meant to arrive. And they should apologise if they really took that long to serve the ramen.

    By the way, the "chashu" you refer to is usually called char siu in Australia. You can usually find it hanging in the window next to crispy duck etc at your local Chinese BBQ. Don't forget that Ramen is considered Chinese food in Japan.

    And yes, the "chicken katsu" is a constant source of amusement to Japanese people new to Australia. Good pick up!

    Commenter
    maguro
    Location
    Date and time
    April 04, 2013, 8:10AM
  • What a surprise, Sydney ramen more expensive than Japanese ramen! I know what I prefer...

    Commenter
    fools paradise
    Location
    Date and time
    April 04, 2013, 9:15AM
    • You gonna fly to Japan every time you want Ramen then ?

      Commenter
      grapsta
      Location
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 11:08AM
  • We lived in tokyo for a number of years and we have been looking for a Ramen restaurant that delivers a great Ramen soup and experience>we can now stop looking as the 12 hour stock and handmade noodles hit the spot.

    Commenter
    Tuppence
    Location
    Date and time
    April 11, 2013, 3:45PM

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