Fukuryu Ramen, CBD

12/23/2015 , , , 0 Comments

Fukuryu Ramen is a relatively new Japanese ramen restaurant, located in Chinatown on a side street off Little Bourke past Russell St. Though there's a large sign indicating the location, the entrance to the restaurant itself is actually two doors down, on the first floor, and can be hard to find especially when you go at night. Fukuryu Ramen is opened for both lunch and dinner; we went for dinner on a Friday night around its opening time of 5:30pm, and luckily didn't have to queue up or wait for a table, as is often the case if you go for dinner, especially after 6:30pm.

Fukuryu Ramen has a casual yet lively atmosphere, in particular as more people came into the restaurant and the sounds of chatter started to increase. However, it can be a bit hard to hear each other as they also play music quite loudly, so you do have to raise your voices a little when talking. The interior design is very simple, and there aren't many decorations on the walls. One thing that did stand out was the 'water station', where you can have cold or hot water, and for the cold, a choice of chilled, ambient or bubbly water. This isn't like anything I've seen at any other restaurants, which was quite interesting. The menu here isn't very extensive, it only has about 6 or 7 different types of ramen available, as well as sides, drinks and green tea ice cream. You order as soon as you enter, and then choose a table, and your order will be bought over to your table.

The two ramen dishes my friend and I chose were the Signature Tonkatsu Ramen ($11.90) and the Shoyu Ramen ($11.90). All ramens came in three different sizes; small, medium and large. We both ordered medium, but afterwards realised large would probably have been more sufficient for dinner, as we didn't feel very full after we'd finished, even with the green tea icecream. To celebrate their opening, the green tea icecream was free in the first month, and this has actually been extended, so if you go within these couple of weeks, it should still be free!

The signature tonkatsu dish consisted of three slices of pork, seaweed, thinly sliced black fungus, bamboo slices, half an egg, spring onion and lettuce in a miso based soup. My friend was quite disappointed with the dish, mostly because when it arrived, the soup was only room temperature - definitely not steaming hot, or even very warm. The portion of pork that wasn't already in the soup was also cold - as if it had just been taken out of the fridge or something. The ramen itself was average, and didn't have much elasticity. The egg yolk was perfectly cooked and runny in the middle, and the soup itself did have good flavours, and wasn't too salty, but the experience was less enjoyable because it wasn't hot enough.

The 'Tokyo Style' shoyu ramen also consisted of three slices of pork, as well as seaweed, fish cakes, marinated bamboo slices and spring onion, in a soy based soup. Again, my ramen soup was only warm when it was served to me, so that by the end of the dish, it had gone cold, so I didn't finish it. My slices of pork were also cold, and I had to soak it in the soup so it didn't feel like it was so cold. There was quite a large amount of spring onion in the dish; apart from the darker green section of the spring onion usually used as a garnish, they also used the lighter sections of the spring onion, so this dish may not be the best for those who don't really like spring onion. It did add good texture to the dish though and gave it extra crunch to contrast with the softer ramen and fish cakes in particular. The seaweed when soaked in the soup, gave it extra flavour that was really tasty, and the soup itself wasn't too salty, despite being a soy based on, which I quite enjoyed.

Service at Fukuryu Ramen was pretty good, as we didn't have to wait very long for our food, and the staff came to take away our bowls almost straight after we were done, and asked if we wanted the free green tea icecream. In addition, as soon as you entered the restaurant, the whole staff greeted you with an 'Irashyaimasei' (which means welcome in Japanese), which was a nice touch. The icecream had good strong green tea flavour, but was more icy than it was creamy, which is less to my liking. They do fill the icecream down to the bottom of the cone which is good, though mine did start to soak through the cone and start dripping.

Presentation wise, the dishes did look very pretty, but the warm soup base did make our experience less enjoyable. Upon looking around at other table's ramen dishes, they all seemed to be steaming hot when served. Admittedly, we probably could've told the staff about this, and may have gotten another bowl that had hotter soup; which would've been good especially as it has been so cold these couple of days. Based on this experience, plus the fact it's not in the best location and doesn't really have a wow factor to the ramen, means I probably won't be visiting this place again, unless I was in the nearby area.

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