In the documentary and cross-cultural love story ‘Banana in a Nutshell’ there’s a funny moment where the Chinese girl and her Anglo boyfriend argue whether cereal is a breakfast food or ‘anytime’ food. It mirrors the kind of conversations that I’ve had with RM before – to me cereal is only for breakfast, whereas he thinks it’s weird to eat noodles in the morning.
This is just a roundabout introduction to say that I LOVE NOODLES and consider myself a bit of a noodle freak. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, I could eat them all day (and for 3 weeks in Vietnam, I did). So when I heard Kokoro Ramen had opened I rushed there, post-haste, to broaden my noodle horizons.
Kokoro Ramen is a roomy ramen joint where the noodles are made fresh on site. The colourful menu is fairly overwhelming with all the possible options (you can even create your own toppings with your choice of broth) so I went straight for the menu recommendation – deep-fried soft shelled crab with the Tokyo chicken and seafood stock base ($14.90).
The bowl that arrived was generous with the noodles and less generous with the toppings – but I guess for under $15 you can’t be expecting too much seafood. At least the crab was juicy yet crunchy, spurting out soup stock at every bite.
But when it came to the noodles and the broth, disappointment set in.
I love noodles that are bouncy and toothsome, with a slight chew and glutinous resistance. These noodles were deadened. One chomp and a nothingness of noodle dough lying in your mouth.
I also found the broth very bland – spoon after spoon I sniffed and slurped, trying to discern some skerrick of chicken or seafood flavours. All I got was a semi-salty murkiness. There was no fragrance, no clarity. And I didn’t have a blocked nose…
On my visit Kokoro Ramen was busy with blue-shirted male office workers in a scene reminiscent of neat Japanese salarymen bedding down for their lunch at their local. And the ramen at Kokoro Ramen is certainly filling and reasonably priced and makes a change from a ham and cheese sandwich, so if you work in the area I can see the attraction.
However, I’m voting with my feet and walking that extra couple of blocks to Ramen Ya.
Kokoro Ramen, 157-159 Lonsdale St, Melbourne +61 3 9650 1215
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