Parco Ramen brings seriously special soup, plus snacks, to Moonee Ponds

The menu's eight bowls of ramen are dominated by tori paitan broths, a rich chicken base, pictured here topped with ...
The menu's eight bowls of ramen are dominated by tori paitan broths, a rich chicken base, pictured here topped with charred pork belly. Photo: Supplied

Parco Ramen is unusual in many ways, and not just because it's partly owned by an Italian fine-dining chef.

Among the eight soups on offer, one is a ramen made with slipper lobster, Moreton Bay bug, koji and lobster oil, a recipe meticulously developed by Federico Congiu and business partner Manato Hikawa.

Congiu caught the ramen bug on a trip to Japan more than 10 years ago and his interest intensified through regular business trips that took him across the country.

Parco Ramen's first standalone shopfront follows many years of takeaway and a CBD collaboration with global ramen outfit ...
Parco Ramen's first standalone shopfront follows many years of takeaway and a CBD collaboration with global ramen outfit Shujinko. Photo: Supplied

"Most people think they know the best ramen after going to Tokyo CBD," he says. "I'm sorry but that's not right. To find good ramen [done] the proper way, you need local people to show you around."

In 2016, he began experimenting with broths and noodles at home, a hobby he continued after joining the Di Stasio restaurants in 2018 as executive chef, a role he still holds.

Congiu and Hikawa progressed from takeaway in 2020 to a shopfront in the CBD (a partnership with ramen group Shujinko) and now to their very own space, serving don (rice) bowls with karaage or yuzu-egg salad, snacks like gyoza and three different styles of ramen.

The lobster ramen, made with Moreton Bay bug, lobster oil, koji and South Australian crayfish.
The lobster ramen, made with Moreton Bay bug, lobster oil, koji and South Australian crayfish. Photo: Supplied

Tori paitan (chicken) soups might come with charred pork belly or a paste of garlic cooked three different ways. The vegan ramen, which took a year of R&D, features roasted tomato, marinated shiitake and greens in a kombu, soy milk and dashi soup. And then there's the lobster bowl, a best-seller that's only on the menu when the shellfish is in season.

Congiu has deliberated over every flavour decision. Most of the soups have a tori paitan base, a rich stock made with chicken bones and offcuts that's less common than pork-based tonkotsu​. House-cultured koji is a key source of umami, and the straight, thin noodles are made with kinako, roasted soy bean flour.

Occupying what was previously an Indian bakery in the heart of Moonee Ponds, Parco seats 25 people across stools and benches, and has retained the original retro floor tiles.

Congiu, meanwhile, continues to divide his time between making fior di latte and pasta for Di Stasio and tare and noodles for Parco.

Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 5pm-9pm 

17A Hall Street, Moonee Ponds, parcoproject.com