157-159 lonsdale st, melbourne
ph: 03 9650 1215
“Kokoro opens in a city that has struggled to get that perfect Japanese bowl of noodles”
It is a well known fact that Melbourne has no good ramen. My journey for the seemingly-elusive bowl of noodles pretty much came to an end when I went to Ramen Ya, a place touted by some as being the ‘best’ Melbourne has to offer. Unfortunately, the best isn’t that great at all. Having tasted Ramen back in the Land of the Rising Sun, I have grown to associate the words ‘disappointing’ and ‘unimpressive’ with Melbourne’s Ramen.
It’s been a long time since Melbourne had a Japanese noodle shop open. So naturally, when Kokoro hit the streets, people eagerly flocked to their doors with eyes wide open, mouths drooling and minds wondering – “Will they get it right?”
Right after this picture…
Haha, sorry for trolling!
Answer: Sort of – Kokoro is a step forward for Melbourne Ramen, but is it a big step?
Returning to the scene to aid me in my decision are C and K. Two friends of mine who never refuse a foodie date, which is good for our cravings but bad for our tummies and wallets.
On to the review. Walk in and you will be greeted by a deafening Japanese welcome! This is very heartwarming when you are the ones who walk through the door. Soon enough, though, you’ll find yourselves reaching for the ear plugs…
I quite like the setup of the place – the combination of the wooden panels, dark floors, tables and ceilings contrasting with the bleach white chairs and dangling lights. The red curtains at the back are traditional of local ramen stores back in good ol’ Nippon, but seems a little misplaced in this modern fitout.
Ramen and beer foods are the name of the game. Ramen is served in 4 broths with a choice of ingredients including soft shell crab, charshu, vegetables and fried chicken.
- Tonkotsu Shio
- Tonkotsu Shoyu
- Tonkotsu Miso
- Tokyo style
Fried Soft Shell Crab Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen
At $15, it is a tad expensive but on first looks – it appeared to be quite impressive. A sheet of seaweed, half a boiled egg, half a soft-shell crab, a slice of pork meat, black fungus, ginger and spring onion with sesame seeds. The buckwheat noodles, which are made in house, were good. They were nice, thin and maintained some resiliency on biting. The broth was also quite satisfying. The shoyu component gave a nice depth of flavour and was accompanied with a subtle, sesame oil flavour.
Broth and noodles aside, everything else was pretty damn mediocre. The servings and quality of everything did not reflect the $15 price tag. A whole soft shell crab and even a few more slices of pork would have been very welcome. Although…if you lick the bowl dry, you’ll probably find yourself quite full.
Meanwhile, C was happily slurping away at his noodles, clearly famished from stresses of Uni and K (i forgot what he ordered) was disappointed that his broth and meats weren’t hot enough. Nevertheless, we left the place reasonably satisfied.
————————————————–Based on this experience————————————————–
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen
Fresh buckwheat noodles
Repetitive & loud shouting
Whilst it still needs some work, Kokoro Ramen puts Melbourne in the right direction. The noodles and broth are executed well but the serving sizes of the rest is what really drags it down.
Worth a try if you’re a ramen-head but just don’t expect too much!