Little Ramen Bar, CBDLittle Ramen Bar is a relatively new Japanese ramen restaurant on Little Bourke St just past Elizabeth St, close to Shanghai Street Dumplings and +39 Pizzeria. It's a very small, cosy restaurant that has a nice authentic feel to it, with friendly staff and a warm atmosphere. There are various pictures of traditional Japanese geishas on the walls, and Japanese music plays softly in the background. Because it is quite small, you might have to queue outside if you don't get there early enough for a table. Little Ramen Bar is opened for both lunch and dinner everyday except Sundays.
There might not be a very large variety of dishes compared to other Japanese restaurants such as Ajisen Ramen, but there's still a good range of ramen to choose from, with extra toppings available to add to any dish for a reasonable price. The two ramen dishes we chose were the Chashu Tamago Ramen ($12.90) and the Hokkaido Ramen ($12.50), and we also ordered a plate of gyoza (japanese pan fried dumplings, $5.50).
The Chashu Tamago Ramen had three options for the soup base; a rich miso (soybean), shoyu (special soy) or shio (light salt). I decided on the miso base, though I did find it was a little on the salty side as there was quite a strong miso flavour. There were three slices of chashu pork, an egg, seaweed pieces as well as a whole bigger piece of seaweed to go with the ramen, as well as bamboo shoot slices and spring onion. Apart from the salty soup, I quite enjoyed this dish; it was quite a good representation of the classic ramen dish, though the ramen itself could've had more elasticity to it. I also really liked the seasoned egg, as the egg yolk was done just perfectly so that it was still orange-ish in colour, but had solidified enough not to go everywhere when you bit into it.
The Hokkaido Ramen had more ingredients to it then the chashu tamago, including a range of mixed vegetables, minced meat, corn, butter and a slice of chashu pork in a miso base. The addition of the butter, which melted deliciously into the soup, made for a rich, creamy taste not unlike that of a western style creamy soup. This dish had a good kick of chilli to it, where you could taste its flavour, but not have it overpower the main flavours of the dish, such as the miso base. The addition of corn and mixed vegetables gave the dish extra texture and flavours, though again, the ramen itself was a bit on the softer side.
The gyoza came in a plate of six, and had enough flavour that you didn't have to dip it in soy sauce like you do for some dumplings, which I liked. The skin of the dumpling was lovely and thin, and you could tell the filling had been seasoned with pepper for extra flavour, though not to the point where it overpowered everything else and became too spicy.
I'd definitely visit Little Ramen Bar again to try the other types of ramen, as I find the flavours are quite good and authentic, despite the ramen lacking enough elasticity. The prices are quite reasonable with good portions- in particular, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the gyoza was only $5.50 for the amount we got.
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