Taro Akimoto. Can’t stop, won’t stop. In just a few short years, the celebrated Brisbane ramen chef has opened a new Ascot restaurant, relocated his CBD original to swank new digs at 480 Queen and also adopted a “temporary” second location in the city on Edward Street. All the while, Akimoto’s bowls of noodle soup – built upon a broth made from Bangalow pork – have come to be regarded as some of the best in Australia.
Now, Akimoto is crossing the river. In mid-November, Taro’s Ramen will open a new restaurant on the ground floor of 154 Melbourne in South Brisbane, in the former premises of Socarrat Paella Bar.
“The owners [Centurion Property Group] were looking for an operator who would bring a stable, fresh vibe to the building,” Akimoto tells Broadsheet. “They approached me with a good offer and an existing kitchen, so I decided to take it up.
“I had been thinking it would be nice to open a fourth shop, but had yet to get down to the nitty gritty. So it was good timing. I was considering inner-city suburbs like South Brisbane, Rosalie, Paddington, West End, New Farm, Newstead, that kind of area. So this hit the sweet spot and it [was settled] really quickly.”
Akimoto says the 80-seat venue will retain much of the existing fit-out – concrete floors and plenty of wood define its long, narrow space – but he’ll replace the couches opposite the bar with a series of booths.
“That section is going to provide a bit of comfort and privacy,” he says. “A bit like what they do at Wagaya [in Fortitude Valley] – partitions all the way up to above eye height. I’m also thinking of putting in a projector to display some old artwork or old cartoons.”
Otherwise, the venue will be similar to the Ascot operation. “iPad ordering,” Akimoto says. “A good mix of Japanese sake, shochu and side dishes to complement the ramen.”
Taro’s Ramen is scheduled to open in South Brisbane in mid-November.