Monday, October 26, 2015

Ramen Auckland

Ramen is the ultimate comfort food. You may remember a previous post I made, where I shamelessly gushed about how I could happily eat it for the rest of my life. Since then, I have taken it upon myself to sample lots of ramen to find the top 5 ramen/soy egg/broth/charsiu ratio in Auckland. 

Below is the result of months of "research" undertaken by myself, along with friends, work colleagues and family whom I dragged along so I could sample more food. 

Welcome to my Ramen Safari.

Shoya Japanese Cuisine

Our first stop was Shoya Japanese Cuisine on Upper Queen Street. We arrived at lunch time to a quiet shop with a few small tables lined up in a row. The smell of ramen broth radiated from the kitchen and made my mouth water. 

The broth is rich, leaving a light film on your lips. Shoya Ramen had the best noodles out of all the eateries - chewy, with a good thickness to them. The noodles were also the perfect length to fit into the spoon and prevent any awkward slurping. 

Clockwise from top left: Negi Hell Ramen - $13.90, Miso Tonkotsu Ramen - $12.90, Shoyu Ramen - $11.90

The Shoyu Ramen broth had a clear taste, while the Miso Ramen had a deeper flavour. The charsiu was melt in the mouth and I really enjoyed the marinated bamboo shoots. The soy egg had a deliciously runny centre but unfortunately the marinade did not penetrate to the middle of any of our eggs.

The restaurant special is a Spicy Hell Ramen which is essentially a ramen broth drizzled in copious amounts of chili oil. There are three levels, each with a little hotter than the last. We were only brave enough to try level one which had a heat that creeps up on you and leaves your tongue a little tingly after each mouthful.

Clockwise from top left: Tonkotsu Ramen with Egg - $12.00, Tantanmen - $12.00, New Tonkotsu Ramen (without egg) - $10.80, Red Dragon - $14.00

Being so close to my workplace, Maruten Ramen was my usual lunch haunt for a long time. You may remember my previous post about some of their offerings. 

Maruten Ramen has the best soy egg out of all the places we visited and being able to choose your noodle thickness is a nice touch. The portion sizes are generous and there are an ample amount of toppings. The broth, however, sometimes has a tendency to be too salty, but the staff are happy to provide extra soup base to dilute the soup.

Kitchen at Ramen Daikoku

We step into Ramen Daikoku Noodle Bar on a particularly cold winter's night. Although it opens out on the street, the restaurant has a very exclusive, intimate feel to it - low roof, close seating and upbeat Japanese pop playing in the background made it seem as if we had been let into some great secret. 

Clockwise from top right: Tonkotsu Ramen - $10.00, Gyoza - $6.50, Spicy Miso Tonkotsu - $14.00
The thin noodles at Ramen Daikoku reminded me a little of an instant noodle packet but the flavoursome broth made up for this. The tonkotsu broth is a bit runny, without the fatty film you would expect, but the kick from the spicy broth is exactly what you need on a cold night. 

I found the egg quite disappointing (plain boiled eggs aren't really my thing), but I was very pleased with the amount of charsiu we received - tender and cut into thick slices -yum!

The sides at Ramen Daikoku are worth ordering. There are a number of ramen + side deals that are offered on their menu. Our favourite is the gyoza, with a crunchy base and yummy pork filling. 
From Left: Tanpopo Ramen - $14.00, Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen - $11.00, Gyoza - $6.00
Tanpopo is an institution among the resident Japanese crowd in Auckland. It is always busy at meal times, often serving more than 2 or 3 rounds of guests per table at each sitting. The owners seem to know most of the people who come through the doors and greet them by name.

The broth at Tanpopo is my favourite - very rich, thick and full of finely chopped garlic and sesame. The charsiu is tender and almost melts into the soup. I enjoyed the marinated seaweed which provided a nice crunch to the dish.

The portion sizes here are quite generous so sides are probably not necessary, but the gyoza is quite light if you want something to go with your ramen.

Clockwise from top left: Tonkotsu Ramen - $13.00, Tan-tan Ramen - $15.50, Lotus Root Chips - $6.00
Lastly, we head into Ramen Takara in trendy Ponsonby. It is definitely the most well presented of all the eateries we visited and has a great selection of sharing plates. It feels like a place for friends to sit down and have a chat rather than somewhere to have a hasty meal.

The noodles here are second only to Shoya Ramen and the cloudy pork broth is light without compromising on taste. The egg has been over cooked on most of my visits here but, fortunately, the marinade penetrates to the centre. The Tan-tan Ramen here is unique -the sour and spicy sesame base awakens the palate while the crunchy mince and stir fry is a nice alternative to your usual ramen toppings.

A must order here is the Renkon chips - crunchy deep fried slices of lotus root. A great alternative to potato crisps, these lightly salted snacks are perfect with a cold beer while you wait for your meal.

Ramen Takara Ponsonby
Whether you are a seasoned ramen enthusiast or wanting to try some great comfort food, I would recommend these great eateries around Auckland. If you know of any other great ramen eateries, please comment below - I would love to try them out!

Shoya Japanese Cuisine (best noodles)
478 Queen Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Maruten Ramen (also known as Japanese Kitchen, best soy egg)
Mercury Plaza, 23-32 Mercury Lane, Karangahape Road, Auckland 

Ramen Daikoku (cool underground vibe)

Britomart, Corner of Britomart Station and Taylor Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Tanpopo Ramen (best broth)

13 Anzac Avenue, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Ramen Takara, Ponsonby (best environment and sides)
272 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

All meals were independently paid for by Lucy and her companions.