Ramen O San

Cheap and cheerful: Ramen O San in its food-court surrounds.
Cheap and cheerful: Ramen O San in its food-court surrounds. Photo: Brianne Makin

Dixon House Food Court; Little Hay Street Haymarket, New South Wales 2000

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Opening hours 11am-8.30pm.
Features Cheap Eats, Family friendly
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 0439 945 245

A friend has a theory about tonkotsu ramen. She believes the reason it's always made behind those little curtains (think about it - all those shops from Menya to Gumshara to Ramen Ikkyu have them) is because Sydneysiders don't want to see how much fat actually goes into a bowl of noodle soup.

Cue a little casual googling, and it turns out there could be some truth in that stock. When that pork broth - made with the best, most gelatinous pig bits and plenty of bones - is reduced down to the correct consistency, it looks like the stuff they squeeze out of arteries in anti-smoking campaigns.

So that explains why it's so delicious. And why so many people seek it out - getting that broth right is a pretty delicate balancing act between purity of flavour and richness. And at this little noodle shop from the Busshari (Japanese restaurant in Potts Point) folks at the entrance of the Dixon House food court, they get top marks. Another point for being able to drink a beer here, too. Once you've ordered your dinner, there's the option to hit the food court's bar for a $7.50 Asahi or a bubble tea or fresh-pressed sugarcane juice.

The black garlic tonkotsu ramen.
The black garlic tonkotsu ramen. Photo: Brianne Makin

There's something really special about the dichotomy of a food court - it's humankind at its best and worst-dressed, where families ignore screaming children, couples sit in silence scrolling through their phones, and there's always that fascinatingly wrong loner. Tonight, that's the guy in diaphanous, white hot shorts, a windcheater and tube socks. The horn-rimmed glasses are the cherry on the cake.   

Never mind the crowd, bring on the soup.

The black garlic ramen is almost heady with white pepper, which clings to everything including a generous garnish of sliced green onion and sliced bean sprout stubs and generous slices of roast pork. If you've ever had a run-in with the tonkotsu (the soup several Sydney chefs have referred to in the past as The Chronic) at Eating World's Gumshara, you'll have a fair idea of what a wallop this style of ramen can pack. Which is why it's so surprisingly nuanced in flavour despite the rich, dare I say, pork-shampoo-like consistency. 

The sumo ramen.
The sumo ramen. Photo: Brianne Makin

Despite the fact this is a ramen shop, there are a few other menu items worth a poke, like the char siu rice bowl - at only $6, a mass of roast pork, rice and mayonnaise squiggles, it is excellent value. Speaking of which, for just $3 more, the sumo ramen offers up a broth that's half chicken and half pork, a thicker-gauge noodle (though no less bouncy and al dente), a massive chunk of gently braised pork belly and a whole lot of vegetables.

Pro tip Skint? Take a friend and share the sumo ramen - it's basically a dinner for two in a bowl. 
Try this
The black garlic tonkotsu ramen will cure everything.
Like this? Ryo's boasts an epically long queue for their noodles. 125 Falcon Street, Crows Nest (02) 9955 0225