Intriguing Japanese ramen with a Swedish twist at the new Berkelouw Books Ramen Bar in Newtown. [CLOSED - LATE 2011]
A Japanese ramen bar in a booskhop? With a Swedish chef? We gotta try this...
The ramen bar is in the rear of the ground floor of Newtown's Berkelouw Books. It's dang groovy, with plenty of room to move on a rainy Friday night.
The menu takes it's naming cues from famous Japanese authors - Murakami (Alison't favourite), Kurosawa the director and the fictional Miyagi (wax on, wax off). There's quite a few vegetarian options (yasai) and a choice of broths.
One of Alison's biggest gripes about ramen bars in Sydney is the lack of free pickles or ginger to add to your bowl. Is there a chronic fear of ginger thieves? We order the homemade pickle thinking it's similar to ramen pickles but this is more in the style of an antipasto, on a bed of seaweed to bring it back to the Japanese flavour.
On the specials board, along with a spicy pork mince ramen option, is Ringo Hamu ($6.50) and the rough translation of apple ham is what this dish is and more. Smoked pork hock and shitake mushroom terrine with kimchi and apple compote. The kimchi is made from cucumber and red cabbage and the flavours are a marriage.
Murakami Ramen - just like his novels, thick and tasty and leaves you wanting more. The broth is a concentrated miso flavoured beauty, heavy on the Gumshara side of porkiness. Instead of the standard soft boiled egg there is a poached egg that breaks open to ooze the egg yolk over the noodles.
The Miyagi Ramen is a salty shoyu based broth, which Shawn detects has a real karate kick of peppery flavour. Same eggy goodness, and the noodles in both have the right amount of chew. There's two types of pork, a shoulder and a roasted pulled style, not as much as other joints but enough to give you an idea.
We worry about slurping ramen juice all over the exquisite books surrounding us, but those cookbooks behind us should be made to take food splatters. As we sit there in a bookshop eating noodles and listening to Velvet Underground and The Pixies, Shawn feels a pang of New York hipster and I feel a Harajuku funky moment.Slurp it up.
It's not authentic Japanese ramen but it is a very interesting, tasty and well-presented fusion of east and west. We enjoyed our feed immensley and will be back to work our way through the menu.
Berkelouw Books Ramen Bar is at 6-8 O'Connell Street Newtown, on the ground floor. It's just off King Street, turn at Guzman & Gomez or the T2 shop on the corner.
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