Go back to Japan and continue working in his corporate job or stay in Brisbane and finally open his own ramen shop.
That’s the decision Taro Akimoto faced in 2009, and by the following year the ramen-blogger-turned-chef had opened Taro’s Ramen & Cafe. Now, after a period of limbo trading from a temporary site on Edward Street, his city store has taken up permanent residence in the newly opened 480 Queen building.
Given his first venue was next door on Adelaide Street, this feels like a homecoming for Akimoto. “We wanted to go back to the location so we signed a lease at 480 Queen,” he says.
The highfalutin 480 Queen is already home to the Brisbane edition of OTTO and a snazzy Jimmy Rod’s Shave Saloon. Taro’s isn’t quite finished – Akimoto is still waiting on much of his panelling and lighting – but what’s there is a slick upgrade on the Edward Street premises and the divey Boeing House shop before it: metres of glass, handsome, solid wood tables and chairs, and crisp black-and-white tiling. The far end of the store is anchored by an intricately illustrated feature wall.
With a full kitchen out back, the menu’s been upgraded too. “At Edward Street we only had one type of tonkotsu [pork bone] ramen, but here we are doing the full range with shoyu [soy sauce], shio [salt] and miso ramen.”
There are also izakaya-style dishes, including pork gyoza, chicken karaage and soft-shell crab with radish and citrus soy.
As for the ramen, it’s as you’d expect, prepared with housemade noodles and ingredients including Bangalow pork and organic eggs. “Ramen is important and what makes ramen is the ingredients,” Akimoto muses. “So you have to stick to the good ingredients to make good stuff.”
His ramen broths are pressure-cooked with exacting care, and Akimoto says you shouldn’t be shy about slurping. “If you are trying to appreciate ramen to the max, then definitely you should practise slurping. It’s not practical but if you are a ramen person, you go to the restaurant, you tie your hair and you come in a dirty T-shirt, and you inhale it, literally,” he laughs.
Hours of methodic slow cooking to be slurped in seconds? That’s the way it’s done, folks.
Taro’s Ramen & Cafe
Level 2, 480 Queen Street, Brisbane
Mon to Sun 11:30am–3:00pm, 5:30–9:00pm