Watch for the queues. They start from the second each Ryo’s outlet opens and curl away down the block. Happily, these are eat-and-run kind of places, so the lines keeps moving and a wait is never too long. What are people lining up for? Ramen. The best damn ramen in Sydney, according to the regulars.
There’s nothing fancy here – the focus is on the broth and the noodles, with all the energy going into that perfect bowl of ramen rather than a value-added venue. Owner Ryosuke Horii grew up in Kyushu, the home of tonkotsu, an intensely thick and flavoursome stock made from slow cooking pork bones and fat.
Both restaurants consist of a single, small, yellow-walled room. Butchers paper lines the walls, with specials scrawled in kanji; and there’s a good luck cats beckoning here and there. They are pretty scuffed at the edges and certainly looks well loved. But you don’t come here for the décor, you come for the ramen. Huge deep bowls with compact choices of rich, salty and unctuous soy or chilli, chicken or pork broth. Each bowl is packed with noodles and dressed with pork, bamboo shoots, boiled eggs, prawn mince balls or sesame seeds. Not necessarily all together.
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.
There are other dishes on offer; deep fried soft-shell crab, miso bolognaise, chicken wings and rice balls. But if you do manage to divert yourself from the ramen, pork buns here are a Japanese answer to the sausage roll. These are not the anaemic, sticky-sweet balls of fluff you’ve had before. These are hearty, pork and ginger parcels the size of a fist and bursting with filling. They make them in-house and they’re nearly as good as the noodles.