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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tokyo Ramen, Hornsby

Okonomiyaki pancake $4.50

We're on a search for good ramen. K and M have been eating their way through a list of Top 15 Ramen Dishes in Sydney--printed recently in a Japanese local mag--and now we're at Tokyo Ramen in the bustling Westfield Shopping Centre at Hornsby.

Tokyo Ramen is doing brisk business as well. In addition to the constant queue of people at the takeaway counter, there's a high rotation of noodle slurpers eating in, either perched on stools at the counter or huddled around the high-demand square tables.

Directly opposite is sister establishment, Tokyo Sushi, an island of rice and nori amidst the tides of shoppers, trolleys and dawdling children. The sushi looks good too, made fresh on site using a clever sushi machine that creates ready mats of rice that get handflipped onto nori sheets and then filled and rolled by the multi-tasking sushi staff.

Negimiso ramen $11.50 plus extra half-egg
Roast pork and shallots with a little chilli

But we're here for ramen. Most of us go for the negimiso ramen, a roast pork and shallot combination in a thick miso soup. We're surprised to find the porkstir-fried in a garlicky and spicy sauce, its residual oil a bit rich and heavy on the palate. Negi means leek, although in this case we end up with plenty of shallots. The stock is thick and almost opaque. It's quite spicy too with a heat that builds up as you near the bottom of the bowl.

We'd also ordered half a boiled egg as an extra, anticipating a delightful buttery moist egg yolk that the Japanese usually do so well. Today it's slightly overcooked, with a disappointing grey ring around the yolk.

Miso butter corn ramen $9.50
Roast pork and corn kernels with butter

M goes for something different with the miso butter corn ramen. The Japanese seem to love butter and corn, particularly on ramen. You can smell the butter as soon as the bowl hits the table. It's a Exxon-Valdez slick of melted butter that advances relentlessly toward anything in its path.

"Is it like drinking melted butter?" I ask. He nods slowly and reluctantly, a slight grimace on his face. This one's for hard core butter fans only.

The G-man orders the okonomiyaki pancake as an extra side dish. We dutifully help him finish it. It's been sitting in the hot display cabinet so it's a little thick and stodgy, although it goes down easily with the brown sauce and blob of mayo.

And my new trick for the day: watching M fold all the disposable chopstick sleeves into miniature chopstick rests. It's something I've never seen before although everyone else assures me this is soooooo what everyone does. I will do, from now on!

Final verdict? Ryo's Noodles still ahead by a slurp or two.

Are you a ramen fan? Where do you head when you're starvin' for ramen?

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Tokyo Ramen
Shop 1042
Hornsby Westfield Shopping Centre
236 Pacific Highway, Hornsby, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9987 2688

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Japanese ramen -- Ajisen Ramen, Haymarket
Japanese ramen -- Ichi Ban Boshi, Sydney (Feb08) and (Aug05)
Japanese ramen -- Menya Japan Noodle Bar, Haymarket
Japanese ramen -- Ramen Kan, Haymarket (Aug 05), (Nov 04)
Japanese ramen -- Ryo's Noodles, Crows Nest (Mar08), (Aug07) and (Jul07)
Japanese ramen -- Tokyo Ramen, Hornsby
Japanese ramen -- Zenya Noodle Bar, Eastwood
18 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/17/2008 12:15:00 am


  • At 12/17/2008 2:14 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    I haven't been here for a while, not since I moved from the area. I don't remember it much so I guess that's saying something?

    I absolutely adore ramen and Ryo's is the best in Sydney but it's so far for me to drive! My best substitute will have to be Zenya Noodle Bar in Eastwood (which I wrote about). Their ramen is good enough for me to skip the drive to Ryo's! So far it's my 2nd fave in Sydney.

  • At 12/17/2008 5:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen
    I love reading your food blog! Hornsby is in my neck of the woods, and your review on Tokyo Ramen is right on the mark.

    Have you tried Ramen Kan (Shop 3, Bronte Rd) in Bondi Juntion? Its currently my favourite Ramen place in that area. I had to give it a try since it came highly recommended by the locals. Cheap and cheerful. Love to know what you think of the place.

  • At 12/17/2008 8:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nothing like ramen on a cold winter's night. Mmm... we've been known to be willing to queue at Ryo's for ages despite the outside cold because of the knowledge of the delicious warmth waiting inside! Apart from Ryo's - Ten Sun in Willoughby, Ichiban Boshi, Ton Ton and there's a place in Hunter Connection in the city which isn't bad. It's the one with the photos of the ramen above the counter, next to a Vietnamese bread roll place (sorry, can't remember the name!)

    Where can I get a copy of this list?? :)

  • At 12/17/2008 8:27 am, Blogger Kt said…

    For us, this is a regular dinner-stop before tackling Thursday-night shopping.
    Our faves are the salmon ramen (with beads of roe floating throughout) and the chilli beef ramen (great when your brain needs a good clearing out).

  • At 12/17/2008 8:27 am, Blogger K said…

    We went to another one! This time it's Eastwood and it was better than this one. We'll grab G-man and the others and go together. :)

  • At 12/17/2008 10:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good stuff, the soup looks really rich.

  • At 12/17/2008 12:52 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My favorite ramen in Sydney is Ramen Kan. I have not tried Ryo's noodle as I only discovered from your blog about Ryo's after I left Sydney.

    I came to NY, searched for the best ramen, nothing was as good as Ramen kan, I almost quit eating ramen. My search ended when Ippudo (popular ramen branch in Japan) opened a branch in NY early this year. The ramen is even better than Ramen Kan =)

    But I am still curious about Ryo's Noodle. One day I still have to visit Sydney to try Ryo's Noodle.

  • At 12/17/2008 10:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It makes me sad how they don't make the eggs as soft and gooey as we like it :( but thx for the heads up about a place up north hee hee

    I still need to try Zenya cos I have heard good stuff from people and my friend looks like the owner haha

  • At 12/17/2008 11:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think ramen would have to be one of my favourite foods

    My fav ramen list in sydney would be:

    Miso bolognese from Ryos
    Tan Tan tsukeumen from IchiBan
    Tonkatsu Ramen with roast pork from Menya
    Curry ramen from Ton Ton

  • At 12/17/2008 11:43 pm, Blogger mimbles said…

    I've walked past Tokyo Ramen many, many times but never eaten there. Maybe one day!

    Helen, I enjoy reading your blog so much so when I had to come up with a list of 5 fabulous blogs to pass on a blog award to, Grab Your Fork had to be on there. Thanks for making me hungry at all sorts of odd hours :)

  • At 12/18/2008 8:23 am, Blogger Y said…

    Looks yum, but like you, we haven't found anything to beat Ryo's yet.

  • At 12/18/2008 10:56 am, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    I'm still yet to designate a favourite ramen haunt, but seem to be at Ichiban Boshi usually since I'm usually in that area.

    Which ramen placed got 1st in your friend's top 15?

  • At 12/18/2008 5:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great review as ever Helen. You mention Ryo's - I ate there recently & overall enjoyed it but thought the ramen broths we had were too thick and salty. I'd also like to know what came 1st in the ramen survey??

  • At 12/19/2008 12:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There are very nice pictures. I have been to Australia once. Then I ate Australian food. However there aren't ramen. I like ramen, so I felt sad. When I came back to Japan and I found ramen shops, I was happy.

  • At 12/21/2008 11:17 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - Ooh I might have to check out Zenya then. Sounds great :) Quite a few good eats in Eastwood it seems.

    Hi Anon - I've a fan of the Ramen Kan in Chinatown but haven't tried their Bondi Junction branch yet. Thanks for the tip :)

    Hi huunyb - Thanks for the list of favourite ramen haunts. I sighted the list but it was entirely in Japanese so I didn't bother getting a copy!

    Hi Kt - Oh I was only reminiscing about fat pearls of salmon roe just today. Sounds great, and ooh who doesn't need a sinus cleared every now and then!

    Hi K - Hmmm it's not Zenya is it (see comment from Karen above). Sounds great. I'm in!

    Hi Arwen - Oh yes, half the measure of a good ramen is the soup base! The thicker the better!

    Hi Linda - Nothing like booking a plane ticket in search of good ramen. Hope you make it back here soon :)

    Hi FFichiban - Usually Japanese cook boiled eggs so perfectly. It's a shame these were overdone :(

    Hi Josh - Sounds like you've got all your ramen cravings covered. Curry ramen? Sounds intriguing!

    Hi Mim - Thanks so much for the award. I'm honoured! Glad to hear the blog is such a favourite read :)

    Hi Y - Looks like I have a couple of leads (if you haven't visited them already!).

    Hi Miss Honey - It was more a list of top 10 but not in any order. K's been researching them. I'll be sure to report any worthy contenders.

    Hi Jax - They say that Japanese don't drink the soup but slurp it as it sticks to the noodles, hence the need for thick and salty soup. I love the soup at Ryo's - it has so much hearty flavour, but each to their own!

    As mentioned to Miss Honey above, the list didn't have a ranking order.

    Hi Anon - I'm happy when I go back to Japan too :)

  • At 12/22/2008 5:55 pm, Blogger Amaya said…

    Whenever I've had a rough day Tantanmen from Ichi Ban Boshi with extra egg sets me right... If I can endure the wait.

    What was the list of restaurants I'd be keen to find ramen restaurants I've not tried.

  • At 12/23/2008 10:44 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Amaya - I don't have the list of restaurants myself but I'll see what I can do :)

  • At 2/18/2009 12:09 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    If anyone's interested in reading the mentioned magazine article of Sydney's Top 15 Ramen dishes, click here for the entire list.


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