Ramen O-San Bar arrived in Sydney in 2015 and became the first Australian enterprise for Chef Kazuteru’s who has other such ramen-ya in Japan. The Sydney enterprise is located in the south-western corner of Sussex Centre Food Court in the heart of Chinatown – its menu is displayed on a huge banner hanging near the service window featuring a variety of ramen as well as some other dishes (such as charsiu pork rice balls). Ramen offerings include the famed tonkatsu ramen ($9.80); sumo ramen (pork and chicken soup with pork kakuni); black garlic tonkatsu ramen ($10.80); spicy ramen ($11.80); seafood tsukemen ($13.80) as well as some rice bowls (pork belly and charsiu pork).
You can add extras to your ramen bowl for a small cost (like an egg, bamboo shoots, leek, shallot, nori, etc).
I love tonkatsu ramen and I measure ramen joints on the quality of this style of ramen. For ramen acolytes, this style of ramen broth is like Dom Perignon to a Champagne connoisseur. Tonkatsu is a cloudy white-coloured thick broth made from boiling pork bones for many hours which infuses the soup with a hearty pork flavor with a creamy consistency. Sometimes other lighter stock might be added to for the final stock soup.
I ordered Ramen O-San Bar’s tonkatsu ramen ($9.80) with the addition of a soft-boiled egg (onsen tamago), for $1.50.
The bowl took just over five minutes to be served (I assume as the onsen tamago was being bathed). It was a hearty, nutty and creamy, lip-smacking, collagen-enriched pork broth. Classic to the style. In the bowl was a topping of sliced spring onions, shredded wood fungus and slices of pork. The noodles were firm.
I added about half a teaspoon each of sesame seeds, minced garlic and chilli flakes (available at the the stall), to the bowl after my initial couple of slurps just for a flavour boost. Did it need it? Probably not – but I am a creature of habit when it comes to adding such tid bits to my ramen (don’t worry, I did taste the soup before adding my extras). The onsen tamago was excellent and almost perfect – it had a runny orange yolk and was a fine addition to the ramen.
The bowl hit the spot and ticked all the boxes. The only thing that I could criticise was the lack of extras – you need to build your own from a base (as in Japan) but in OZ there are other ramen places where you get a little bit more (such as nori and menma). But considering the quality of the broth – extra bells and whistles are only an after thought.