Lonely Mouth by RaRa
The thought of vegan ramen might be heresy to noodle purists. But given the Japanese masters and ramen consultants behind RaRa Ramen’s secret tonkotsu recipe – which was handed down to Katie Shortland and Scott Gault to serve at their Redfern and Randwick RaRa outlets – are totally on board with the non-meat ramen recipe, perhaps tradition shouldn’t be the sole definer of what’s acceptable.
Lonely Mouth takes its name from the Japanese word kuchisabishii, which roughly means the longing to put something in your mouth, even if you’re not hungry. It’s tiny, and doesn’t have Redfern’s neon or Randwick’s noodle theatrics – just a whole lot of understated raw oak and devil’s ivy, with a low communal table in the centre of the room and high stools along the walls for counter-style dining.
The stars of this show are the three vegan ramens, which are chalked up on a blackboard opposite the bar. Each one shares the secret tare seasonings (the soup-broth flavouring) and signature thin Hakata-style noodles found in RaRa’s famous pork soups.
Top of the list is a hempseed-and-sunflower-based vegetable-broth ramen, which mimics the creaminess and umami of unctuous tonkotsu. Next is a sesame-and-soy-milk tantanmen, which is both nutty and fiery. And finally, the one that started it all: RaRa’s miso broth topped with grilled tofu, sprouts, charred corn, purple cabbage, fungus and pickled bamboo.
Simple izakaya-style sides rotate every few weeks, but past dishes have included pickled cucumbers, kimchi, cauliflower karaage (breaded and fried), and tempura corn flecked with numbing Sichuan pepper.