Menya Sandaime was an important moment for Melbourne's ramen scene. It boldly went where no eatery had gone before: serving ramen 24 hours a day. Then it closed, rebranding as Shujinko in 2016.
The good news: the important stuff hasn't changed. Shujinko still serves true Tokyo-style tsukemen with thick bonito stock, and the melt-in-your-mouth char-grilled charsiu is possibly the best in town.
This is a place that doesn't treat Melburnians like ramen beginners. There are three main soup ramen (normal, black and spicy), but there's also a stir-fried version and a cold version with jumbo prawns made for summer.
Unlike other ramen-joint owners, Kevin Pak wants to cater for the night crawlers. The rebrand brought more colourful staff uniforms and swapped out the awkward wooden-box menus for something simpler, but kept the 24-hour trade.
This is emulating dark Tokyo, where salarymen and university students stumble across a lantern beacon after a big night out, pre-emptively curing their hangover with umami-laden ramen before the last train leaves.
Some may prolong their party with izakaya bar snacks such as gyoza, fried chicken, fried croquette and of course, more beer and sake. Is Pak's plan working? Drop by at 2am and check out the queue yourself.
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