In 2019, much-loved Darlinghurst yakitori and ramen spot Chaco Bar was split in two. Chaco Bar moved to bigger premises in Potts Point, and now focuses exclusively on yakitori. The Darlinghurst space was turned into Chaco Ramen, with a focus on Japan’s favourite noodle soup.
The four signature bowls at Chaco are standouts in a crowded scene. While owner Keita Abe might defer to tradition with regards to his yakitori, when it comes to his ramen, creativity reigns supreme. His bowls are packed with ingredients like chilli coriander, yuzu scallop, fish salt and “fat soy” – it’s unlike anything else you can find in Sydney
But you’re unlikely to find tonkotsu at Chaco. Abe is from Fukuoka, where the pork-broth soup originated, but he wants to make ramen sustainably and with a nose-to-tail ethos, rather than letting history or tradition guide him. So he used what he had in the kitchen – chicken bones, tomatoes, bonito and other things – to create the four signature recipes.
The tiny restaurant serves those signatures and a seasonal special or two. When it’s hot and humid in Sydney Chaco also runs a cold ramen, a rarity in Sydney despite its climate-appropriateness. It’s a surprisingly savoury and complex meat-free soy and dashi-based broth with tomato, truffle, a semi-cooked egg and a Japanese date.
The sides are typical to what you’d find in many Japanese bar-restaurants in Sydney: gyoza, edamame, karaage (crumbed chicken), chashu (pork) rice and a few others.
The drinks list remains relatively unchanged from Chaco Bar’s previous sake and shochu specialisation. There’s also a yuzu highball (house-made yuzu syrup and soda), but Abe still recommends beer as the most classic ramen companion.