Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ramen-Kan, Haymarket

Internet research for my Sydney Ramen Safari uncovered Ramen-Kan, a 'hidden gem' in Chinatown with an inconspicuous entrance and a small cult following. I was lunching with May-Ann and her boyfriend Esmond, and even though one of us had been there before, the three of us managed to walk up the wrong doorway before discretely being pointed in the correct direction by an old lady handing out flyers outside. The entrance, giving literal meaning to the term 'hole in the wall' was marked with the address, 90 Hay St, hand-painted in red letters above the doorframe (see tastebound for photos). We waited awhile for the tiny old elevator before realising that the set of lift buttons we had pressed were non-functional - during which time I felt something wet drip on my shoulder, unpleasantly discovering that the mouldy ceiling was leaking (be warned).

Once we finally managed to transport ourselves to the correct location, the modern decor of Ramen-Kan was a pleasant change from its shabby exterior - furnished in dark wood with straw tapestries on the walls and lit with spotlights, it looked very much its part as a well-kept secret. The floor plan consisted of a good number of tables in small clusters and wall lounges, a bar and a table bench lining the outer wall - we sat there with a view of Market City through the long vertical windows, people watching and indeed feeling very hidden away. Having my heart set on the tonkotsu ramen, I waited impatiently as ever-indecisive May Ann mulled over her various options in an extensive menu. She eventually settled on the shoyu ramen set, which comes with gyoza, while Esmond has the chicken karaage don.

Ramen Kan_tonkotsu ramen
Tonkotsu Ramen $11.80

I was eagerly awaiting my treasured tonkotsu, the bowl comes topped with slices of cha-su, half an egg, pickled ginger, a generous pile of shallots and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Accompanying it on the side was a little dish of condiments consisting of fried shallots, garlic and chilli sauce. The pork was slightly tough, not as tender as it could be and not particularly memorable, however the noodles were satisfyingly toothsome. Alas, the egg was plain and once again, not soft-boiled but no matter, because I was more focused on the broth. The tonkotsu was light and milky in texture, it didn't taste much of pork to be honest, and lacked the collagen effect (sticky lips) - not much of a knockout, though however it was still pleasant in a subtle manner. I tried some of May's shoyu broth and actually preferred hers, finding it unexpectedly more flavoursome. After finishing my bowl, I also ate half her ramen because she couldn't finish it... dining with people with small appetites just means more for me. Also I'm a terrible food blogger for failing to photos of my companion's meals because I feel too guilty making them wait for me.

Ramen Kan_gyoza
Gyoza (5 pieces)

The gyoza was crisp yet unusually not oily, the wrapper being chewier than the varieties I've previously had. Inside, the pork was succulent and tasty, pleasingly embedded with pieces of shallots (I love shallots, I think they belong in everything).

Ramen Kan_drinks
Tsunami Sparkling Sake Cocktail $4 and Green Tea Milk $4.80

To accompany my meal, I had also selected the green tea milk, and May, going by her philosophy of "it is never too early for a drink", decided to order a tsunami sparkling sake cocktail, which to our surprise turned out not to be an actual cocktail, but a bottled alcopop. It tasted like sugar, lychee and lemonade, and is now to be known only as the Cruiser of Shame. In pleasant contrast, my green tea milk seemed somewhat more respectable - cool, creamy milk with a green gradient into the sweet tea flavouring. On an odd note, after drinking about half of the milk, the waitress came up and it took away my glass without saying a word, leaving me very confused for a few minutes until she brought it back, refilled - not sure if that's their standard procedure?

But I digress, overall it was still a satisfying affair, honestly it would've been pretty good if I had managed to ingest 1.5 large bowls of soup, noodles and meat. Not too hard on my poor bank account either...

90 Hay St, Haymarket 2000
Telephone: (02) 9211 6677

Ramen-Kan on Urbanspoon


  1. Shame about the deceptive sparkling sake 'cocktail'. I do like the crispy bottoms on those dumplings though!

  2. just stumbled onto your blog, love your photos!

  3. Oh wow, thank you haha. I've been following your blog for ages!