346 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC
In the coldest of seasons, it’s often hard to resist the warm coziness of a tightly-packed cafe or bar. It has an allure that is logical to even the dimmest of people – and then you come to Little Ramen Bar, a tiny hole-in-the-wall place just off Elizabeth. It sells what it says it sells – ramen. And not just the insta-noodle packets that you secretly know the established joints use, but the real stuff – straight out of the homeland.
The place is small for its purposes, but in the densely-packed congregation of lunch-takers and wanderers there is a strangely comforting warmth. The atmosphere buzzes with talk and the slurping of noodles, a sound you would expect often in such a place (but is strangely absent in the major restaurants). The service is polite and efficient, another little taste of the homeland right there.
For starters I had the wok-fried rice. Now I don’t mean to be conventional, but I like to test the mettle of any joint’s general fare before committing. And in this case I was not disappointed. The rice is served neatly and symmetrically on a round plate, no unnecessary garnishes, just plain, simple fried rice. Not too oily, not too dry, warm to the tongue, just the right start for a cold winter’s day.
Having satisfied myself enough with their skill, I moved on to the next dish, a classic ramen in a rich miso soup base. The soup, fittingly, is piping hot and reinvigorating at the first sip, the pork thinly sliced and tender to the tongue, and the noodles – al dente to a point that would make an pasta connoisseur weep for joy. It was, to say at the least, a wonderful medley of textures and tastes, as a ramen bowl can and always should deliver.
However, I am a modest man, and I shall leave it there for you readers to decide for yourselves. Mere words on a screen may be able to influence millions, but my influence (and this is really important for me and you) should only compel you to go out there, and try for yourself.