No Ramen, No Life. It’s pretty much a mantra I live by, as I find myself getting insatiable cravings for ramen every couple of weeks. I was pretty excited to hear about yet another ramen place opening up in the CBD – and run by an ex-Gumshara chef as well! We found ourselves heading over to Yasaka Ramen a few weeks after it had opened to check out what the fuss was about, and to see if chef Takeshi Sekigawa had brought the infamously rich Gumshara tonkotsu broth with him.
The first thing you see when you walk into the restaurant are several takoyaki cast iron moulds where a chef is busily turning the octopus balls to make sure they get just the right amount of crispiness. It’s just as well that they have several of these moulds along one wall of the restaurant as there’s lots of different takoyaki to choose from including wasabi soy, teriyaki sauce with egg salad, and grilled cheese!
We have to order some takoyaki after seeing them being freshly made out the front. The takoyaki are nicely cooked and creamy on the inside, with a touch of ginger and lashings of takoyaki sauce, kewpie mayonnaise and bonito flakes.
But the focus here is, of course, on the ramen. A full page of the menu is dedicated to three variants of thick tonkotsu pork bone broth – tonkotsu shoyu, tonkotsu shio, and tonkotsu miso – with a variety of toppings. The ramen noodles are also made in house and sometimes you can see them being cut into thin strands out the front of the restaurant.
The classic Yasaka Ramen comes with a tonkotsu shoyu soup base, consisting of a pork bone broth blended with a special soy paste. The noodles are bouncy, the soup is thick but not quite as thick as Gumshara. Standard toppings include chashu, shallots, bamboo shoots and a sheet of nori, but the egg ramen also comes with a perfectly soft-boiled egg.
For the chashu lovers out there, Yasaka offers a double grilled chashu ramen which basically means that your entire bowl of ramen is draped with thin slices of chashu and blow torched til the edges are toasted. The chashu is ribboned with fat, and while there are some nice burnt edges on the chashu, I’m not convinced that the aburi treatment changes the flavour that much.
This is one of the first places in Sydney where I’ve seen kakuni ramen offered. We had an awesome kakuni ramen in Sapporo and were keen to see if Yasaka’s would live up to Japanese standards. The kakuni isn’t as fatty as we remember but it’s braised until meltingly soft in a sweet marinade which imparts its flavour into the meat. I find it interesting to have a sweet-flavoured meat in savoury ramen, but the contrast worked pretty well and it’s something I would order again.
Since everyone else ordered a tonkotsu shoyu ramen, I decided to go with the tonkotsu shio soup base which I actually preferred to the shoyu one. My normal grilled chashu ramen came with two slices of aburi chashu and I added an extra soft boiled egg (always egg!). How did it compare to other ramen places? I think when it comes to tonkotsu, Gumshara still reigns but if you’re after a soup base that’s less thick and rich, then Yasaka is a good option.
126 Liverpool St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9262 9027
Open 7 days, 11.30am to 10pm (9pm on Sundays)