We’re sitting in Ryosuke Horii’s new Bondi Junction store. Even though it’s 43 degrees outside, every table has a wide bowl of viscous tonkotsu on it. Many more hold sides of chicken karage and fried chunks of soft-shell crab. It probably wouldn’t matter if it was 50 degrees, Horii has a reputation as one of Sydney’s first and best ramen chefs; wherever he goes, the ramen cult follows. “I really wanted to open a new shop,” he says. “Some people come over the bridge to Crow’s Nest, so maybe for those people living around here it's more convenient. “We don't care if it's hot or cold, we eat noodles.”
Like Horii’s original Crow’s Nest ramen shop, the new Bondi Junction store has the same simple feel with the occasional Japanese knick-knack and bright-yellow walls dotted with hanging sheets of Japanese characters. It’s also, to Horii’s delight, crammed into a small space. “I don't like big shops. Ramen needs small shops. This was a perfect size for ramen,” Horii says. “If you have a big shop with 100 seats, if 30 or 50 people come in one minute, then all the soup is gone.”
The small size is not just to manage the production cycle, it’s for quality control. Unlike other expansive ramen chains, Horii doesn’t mass produce his soup in a central location and send everything out frozen. All of the stocks and ramen side-snacks for the Bondi store are made on-site.
Although at this stage the menu is an almost-exact clone of the original, Horii says he wants to implement some new things. “I'm thinking, seasonal menu. I have no idea for Bondi at the moment. I am thinking slowly. I don't know yet.” For Bondi Junction customers unacquainted with the legend, forget what the blogs say about Ryo’s Tokyo-style chicken ramen. Horii is from Kyushu, the home of tonkotsu, an intensely thick and flavoursome stock made from slow cooking pork bones and fat. “Pork soup is our signature food, our specialty,” he says. “It’s my soul food. Aussie people grow up on meat pies but in Japan I grew up eating ramen.”
Ryo’s Noodles Bondi Junction
106 Ebley Street, Bondi Junction
(02) 9387 8858
Thu to Tue 12pm–3pm and 5pm–9pm