What do you get when you combine two ramen-loving chefs, a hospitality shutdown and top Victorian produce? Gomi Boys, which has gone from a lockdown takeaway business to a ramen restaurant in the former Beatbox Kitchen space in Brunswick.
The 60-seat Gomi Ramen Shop adds a very Melbourne bowl to the global ramen files, as friends Ryan Maher and Benjamin Reardon transform Murray cod, Chooks at the Rooke eggs and birds, Somerset Heritage Produce and other local ingredients into sustainably minded dishes.
"We've tried to make our own style as opposed to trying to replicate what they do. It's not our place to try and copy a traditional Japanese dish," says Maher.
Ramen is notoriously nerdy and, despite its speedy service, each bowl involves many hours of preparation. Gomi Boys goes even further, making its own niboshi dashi using Port Phillip sardines and writing nose-to-tail menus that reduce waste.
The pair fell down the ramen wormhole after an "incredible" niboshi-based bowl in Tokyo in 2017 that led to research, testing, ramen parties at home and, finally, DIY ramen kits in 2020.
The restaurant's menu changes often but always includes two ramens plus the soupless maze soba, vegan options, and snacks such as chilled tofu or fried chicken skins. Noodles are hand-made with wholewheat flour from Eden Valley Biodynamic in Western Australia. Tsukemen – chilled noodles served separate to the broth – is a summer favourite; as the weather cools, wild boar or venison ramen might appear.
The three-person kitchen team tries to minimise importing Japanese ingredients and uses spent kelp, katusoboshi and niboshi to make furikake seasoning. .
"It's so nice at certain points in the day when there's a silence in the shop and all we can hear is slurping. We know our job is done," says Reardon.
Cocktails such as gin and tonic with fermented plum and sansho pepper echo the low-waste, seasonal approach. Beers from Hop Nation and Site wines are also available.
Takeaway ramen is back for now, with delivery to select suburbs.
Open Wed-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm, Sun noon-4pm.
Gomi Ramen Shop, 692 Sydney Road, Brunswick, 03 9191 0008, gomiboysramen.com