Given the institution Taro’s Ramen has become, it’s hard to believe namesake owner Taro Akimoto isn’t a trained chef. “I’m just a big foodie,” he says, before adding, perhaps unnecessarily, “I especially love ramen.”
Seven years ago Akimoto stepped out of his job in international trading and stepped into something he thought Brisbane lacked: Japanese noodle soup. Since then he’s opened three locations for Taro’s Ramen. “I wanted to make a shop that would satisfy my needs: a decent bowl of ramen made with passion and care,” Akimoto says. “Everybody says that, but when you look into detail [few] people are actually doing it.”
By care, he’s referring to the Taro’s technique of exactingly built broths (his pork broth is built with Bangalow Sweet Pork) without any added MSG or preservatives. Everything is made from scratch. “I eat it myself, my kids eat it, so we don’t want to add any chemicals to it.”
Now comes a fourth restaurant in South Brisbane. This time around, Akimoto is pitching the same menu as the Ascot location. That means the ramen you know and love – tonkotsu, shoyu, shio and miso, all served with that classic, soft-to-the-chopstick ramen egg – and side dishes such as curries, crispy chicken karaage and house-made gyoza. There will be monthly specials, weekday lunch deals and desserts.
The new space on the ground floor at the 154 Melbourne office building is the biggest Taro’s yet. An 80-seater with several booths for private dining, like Ascot it has iPads at the table to save you lining up to order.
The restaurant is currently BYO but looking ahead, Akimoto’s plan is to create a Japanese bar serving sake, shōchū and beer. “I intend to put in a snake-head beer server with three beers on tap,” Akimoto says. “Santori Premium Malt, Asahi Black and Orion.”