It has often been said that to be great is to be misunderstood. Few dishes tragically fall into this category like ramen, thanks to late night pots of boiling water in uni student rooms and countless diners who often mistake this wonderful dish for the infamous Vietnamese pho. Thanks to Pat Breen and his crew at their Shophouse Ramen pop-up, diners in Melbourne have a few magical days to immerse and slurp themselves into the steaming realm of Japanese comfort and enlightenment.
"Pho is so gnarly and in your face," says the Seven Seeds alumnus who found his love for ramen in his home kitchen. "Ramen, however, is all about comfort...and the pork."
What started as a home passion project has now evolved into a 10 day pop-up ramen joint in the steamy confines of Storm in a Teacup. While the tea junkies are off on summer holiday, Pat and his crew have brought their noodle magic to the sleepier confines of Smith Street, providing a familiar locale with a rather unfamiliar string of dishes where Fitzroy diners can bathe in the comfort of warm broths, buns of buttery pork, ‘Sunday Roast’ chicken, $5 VB's, Wu-Tang Clan, and a hand-crafted narrative of savory tonkatsu and surprising discoveries for both diner and creator. "I'm actually kind of ignorant about ramen," says the self-taught Breen, who creates all ingredients from scratch, including handmade noodles on the tea bar. "But I like that because there are no rules...and you just have to throw yourself in the deep end and discover."
Regardless of anything, don't be fooled by the small menu. The beast sits quietly within the flavors and ingredients that range from delicate wheat and rye noodles to pork bellies and shoulders that could very well melt with a dirty look. While meat-focused, the locally-sourced menu is not without a stellar chilled sesame and chili vegetarian option (available with swimmer crab) that comes loaded with spine-tingling umami. And if the madness of their opening weekend (sold out at lunch and dinner in a matter of hours) is any hint as to what's in store for the Shophouse, the tastes of Melbourne are certainly on a mission to understand and find greatness at the bottom of their bowl.
48a Smith Street, Collingwood
12-10pm (until sold out) everyday until Feb 10