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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst

Chashu pork in the fat soy ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst

It takes fifteen kilos of chicken meat, bones, necks and whole carcasses to make the ramen stock each day at Chaco Bar. Everything gets tumbled into Chef Keita Abe's 70-litre stock pot, a new kitchen purchase that has effectively doubled the number of ramen bowls he can produce each day. The old 35-litre pot could make about 35 bowls of ramen. Now he can push out about 70, ensuring that Sydney noodle-holics will no longer miss out on the city's latest ramen offering.

Chef Keita Abe's grandfather wall mural at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Chef Keita Abe's grandfather painted on the dining room wall

Chaco Bar has already won over Sydneysiders with its smoky yakitori skewers since opening in August last year. Ramen, or cha-co-men, as Chef Abe likes to call it, is a new lunch service offering available Wednesday to Saturday only. The first bowl goes out at midday. They keep serving until 3pm unless it runs out earlier.

Daytime dining means you get to actually see the entire dining room, a contrast to dinner service when it's all flickering tea lights and shadows.

Fish salt ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Fish salt ramen $13

There are just two types of ramen on the menu: the Fish Salt or the Fat Soy. Both start with a base of chicken stock, then either fish stock or soy is added to create each variation.

Standard toppings on each include cha shu fatty roast pork, bean sprouts and a sheet of seasoned nori seaweed. The fish salt ramen comes with plump and silky wontons filled with a huddle of prawn and John Dory. Shredded leeks add a sense of brightness to each slurp of soup.

Black fungus on the fish salt ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Black fungus extra topping $2

You can add on a host of extras including seasoned egg ($3), bamboo shoots ($2) and umeboshi pickled plums ($1). A tangle of black fungus ($2) provides crunch against the chewy noodles and lighter style chicken and fish stock soup.

Fat soy ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Fat soy ramen $13

You're either a fish salt fan or a fat soy fanatic. You can guess which camp I belong to. The fat soy ramen is just as decadent as the fish salt is restrained. It's everything that's right with this world: a rich and fatty soup, thick slices of wobbly soft pork belly and half a soft boiled egg, soaked in soy for extra flavour.

Pork back fat menu options for the fat soy ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Choose your pork back fat intensity

You're in control of how much pork back fat you want added to your soup. The scale runs from no fat to extra fat. Go hard or go home, I say!

Cha shu pork with extra pork back fat in the fat soy ramen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Cha shu pork with extra pork back fat in the fat soy ramen

Extra fat rewards you with a soup so dense with goodness, it's practically opaque. There's a sweet and porky intensity to the soup, coating your tongue and the sides of your throat as it slides its way down.

Fat soy ramen noodles at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Ramen noodles in the Fat Soy

The noodles do well to stand up to the porky onslaught. The fresh noodles are cooked until just al dente, the crinkly ropes satisfyingly dense and chewy.

Steamed rice with pickled mustard greens at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Steamed rice with pickled mustard greens $4

The fat soy ramen should defeat even the hungriest of appetites but the bowl of steamed rice with pickled mustard greens provides a welcome palate cleanser.

Fresh ramen noodles in the kitchen at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Fresh ramen noodles in the kitchen

Chef Keita Abe lets me into the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes tour. The tiny space - once the site of Jazz City Diner - is tidy and well organised. Even the cloak of steam can't hide his grin as he plunges each basket of noodles into the boiling water. He's in his happy place. And so am I.

The ramen stock pot at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
The new 70 litre stock pot used for making the ramen stock

Chef Keita Abe draining cooked ramen noodles at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Chef Keita Abe draining the cooked ramen noodles 

Chef Keita Abe ladling stock into bowls at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Ladling stock into bowls

Chef Keita Abe transferring ramen noodles into bowls at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Transferring the ramen noodles into bowls

Chef Keita Abe adding the toppings onto ramen bowls at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Adding the toppings on the ramen

Chacomen ramen noodle bowl on the pass at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Cha-co-men ramen on the pass

Dining chairs and tables at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Dining chairs and tables 

Entrance to Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst

Chaco Bar (Facebook page)
238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9007 8352

Lunch ramen
Wednesday to Saturday 12pm-3pm or until sold out (cash only)

Dinner yakitori 
Monday to Saturday 6pm-10.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Chaco Bar yakitori (September 2014)
15 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/18/2015 09:59:00 pm


  • At 6/18/2015 10:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd so go for the FAT SOY ramen! Hmmmm I'm hungry for two bowls of ramen :D

  • At 6/19/2015 7:55 am, Anonymous John | heneedsfood said…

    The words "wobbly soft pork belly" literally jumped from the screen. You know how to get my attention, Helen. I need some ramen now!

  • At 6/19/2015 9:27 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    mmm fat soy with extra fat...

  • At 6/19/2015 11:10 am, Anonymous Racy_staci said…

    Fat soy ramen. Love the way it just rolls off your tongue. Looks very comforting.

  • At 6/19/2015 2:59 pm, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    my look at that pork belly fat!!
    I dont know I want to eat all that fat!!

  • At 6/19/2015 4:38 pm, Anonymous Berny @ I Only Eat Desserts said…

    I need that fat soy ramen in my life - that looks and sounds unbelievably tasty! One day when I am in Sydney it will be in my belly :D

  • At 6/19/2015 4:51 pm, Anonymous Francesca said…

    Ramen with real stock and tasty additions- perfect on a cold day.

  • At 6/19/2015 6:05 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I can't believe it takes that many bones to make each days pot of stock! The ramen looks amazing and it's the perfect meal for the cold wet weather Sydney is experiencing. You always manage to get great shots of action-in-the-kitchen xx

  • At 6/19/2015 8:18 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    I loved their fish salt ramen!! I gotta try the fat soy next time with extra fat!

  • At 6/20/2015 11:00 am, Blogger Sarah said…

    Woah! Love that shot of the noodles all covered in glistening oil in the Fat Soy! <3 <3

  • At 6/20/2015 12:57 pm, Blogger TheUrbanMum said…

    I feel in love with Ramen on our holiday to Japan earlier this year, until then I wasn't really a fan....they are such a healthy and delicious meal in a bowl...this spot is just down the road from us, time for s visit and perfect wintery weather for it...x

  • At 6/21/2015 12:18 pm, Anonymous Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said…

    I like Fat Soy but frankly what I love best about this place is that he put a full size mural of his grandfather up on the wall. How cool is that! What a great place to eat.

  • At 6/21/2015 8:17 pm, Anonymous Joseph said…

    So many good ramen places to try out, the fat soy is on my to do list for this week :)

  • At 6/22/2015 5:28 pm, Anonymous Isaac (iFat) said…

    Ahhh fish based ramen I actually want to try. So keen.

  • At 6/23/2015 7:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ooooh, noodles! Sydney and winter is the perfect time for noodle soup ;)


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