Ramen O-san Bar

December 01, 2015

Ramen O-san is a relatively new addition to what's rapidly becoming or has already become a plethora of ramen eateries speckled about Sydney. DT and I are mega fans of ramen so when Yuri from SDMG Marketing kindly invited us for lunch here there was no hesitation to accept it and having visited Ramen O-san on a previous occasion and leaving with more than satisfied stomachs we were eager to try their other options. You know the tonkotsu ramen is legit when Chef O-san has won notable awards in Japan for it.

You can easily find Ramen O-san Bar straight to your left as you enter Dixon House Food Court in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown. It definitely blends in with the rest of the eateries but the bright red signage will draw your attention immediately.

The menu
I particularly liked the humongous menu board which clearly showcases what's on offer and with corresponding pictures as well to perhaps make your choice a little bit easier. Everything looked so appetising though and I was at a loss at what to choose but fortunately Yuri was again helpful with her recommendations.

This bar style setup is a common trait for ramen joints situated in food courts such as Gumshara and Ramen Ikkyu and makes for a convenient way of ordering and obtaining food. The only issue is scavenging for a table during peak lunch and dinner hours so you'll literally have to swoop in once a table has been vacated and may end up clearing the table yourself. 

It was a late Sunday morning and Sydney weather was being indecisive as per usual. I left the house thinking it would be a cold and wet day and it turned out to be the exact opposite. As a result, the hotter weather meant cooling down with a large bowl of spicy tsukemen (dipping noodles). It sounds like an oxymoron as how does one cool down while eating something spicy but you'll be surprised.

Spicy tsukemen
I don't usually gravitate towards cold noodle dishes but I was feeling a bit adventurous and with Yuri recommending the tsukemen for the hot weather it was decided. Underneath the lovely arrangement of finely sliced carrot, cucumber, pork belly, cabbage and bean sprouts was a huge portion of cold egg noodles. The intense redness of the cold spicy broth appeared really formidable at first but don't let that deter you as it was actually pretty mild and I wasn't working up a sweat as I was slurping away. The light broth was flavoured with red chilli oil and left my tastebuds with a slightly sweet and tangy aftertaste which only made me want to have more. Special mention must be given to O-san's pork belly which had packed in so much flavour and was so freakishly tender that it would break apart with little force.

There's nothing difficult about eating tsukemen besides being able to wield a pair of chopsticks. Just dip the noodles in the broth provided and have a nibble of some veggies and pork here and there. Yuri also suggested alternatively to place some topping into the tsukemen broth so there's really no wrong or correct way to eat it. The coldness of all the components including the addictive spicy broth was actually refreshing and it was so pleasant to eat on a fairly hot day. I can definitely see the appeal as otherwise I would have been eating a piping hot bowl of ramen and ungracefully wiping away sweat beads in between each chopstick-ful.

O-san special: Creamy tonkotsu ramen
Creamy was not an understatement for what was inherently a mighty delicious bowl of tonkotsu ramen. I would imagine that the tonkotsu broth would have to be prepared at least 10 hours ahead of time to extract all of the collagen from the pork bones to achieve that level of thickness. The consistency was similar to Gumshara's signature tonkotsu broth if not thicker. Others may not agree and would think I'm making quite a bold statement here but O-san's broth was just a pinch more flavourful. To attest to that I would need to have them side by side for taste testing. The tonkotsu broth was well balanced in flavour, not overly salty and not bland and just straight up addictive as I found myself having spoonful upon spoonful of the wonderfully creamy and rich soup.

Thick noodles in the creamy tonkotsu ramen
The ramen noodles we were accustomed to seeing didn't make a presence here but I was not disappointed at all by this significantly thicker variation of ramen noodle. The noodles were firm but not hard and each strand would be glistening with a layer of that pork collagen infused creaminess making them all the more delicious. The chashu at O-san would be one of the better ones I have tried, being braised to the perfect melt-in-your mouth softness and marinated to deliver a rounded smokey saltiness.

Pork slice rice bowl
O-san undoubtedly does what they specialise in extremely well, which is their tonkotsu ramen but I was so unexpectedly impressed by this rice bowl. It was a seemingly ordinary dish but once you eat one of those pork slices you won't be able to stop yourself from gobbling it all up in one go. The pork was amazingly tender and having quite a bit of fat attached to each piece meant it almost melted in the mouth. You'll be hit first with how much flavour each slice was saturated with and from what I could fathom it seemed to have been marinated with a mixture of soy sauce and garlic. I daresay it was heavenly especially when accompanied with a bed of soft white rice drizzled with the tasty marinade. A great comfort food, if only I could re-create this at home. 

Ramen O-san Bar is calling your name if you're a lover of ramen or even new to the ramen scene. There's bound to be something to suit your tastebuds even if you're not a fan of creamy tonkotsu and don't get me started on that sensational pork slice rice bowl. I'm salivating just thinking about it. As the weather has begun to heat up in Sydney you can't go wrong with their tsukemen either.

By being a Washoku Lovers member you will never be left wondering which Japanese restaurant to venture to next as the website has you covered with quite a comprehensive list of eateries and they are conveniently categorised according to your budget and occasion. O-san is one of the more affordable options listed but the cheaper price point doesn't make it any less delicious.

Washoku Lovers membership is free and by joining and showing your card at participating restaurants you can obtain discounted meals, drinks and also some freebies.
Find out more: http://www.washokulovers.com

DT and I dined as guests of Ramen O-san Bar with thanks to Yuri from SDMG Marketing

Ramen O-san Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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