It's getting hard to compare each of the different ramens around town as each offers something a little different to the other. So we don't want to make comparisons, just offer you a rundown of the styles and flavours and you the reader can decide which you like best. There's a ramen style, venue and price to suit every noodle lover.
Although eating ramen in a food court is a far cry from the traditional ramen house eating experience you would get in Japan, there are some small touches of that here: hearing the welcome call out, watching the chefs whack the noodles dry, ladle the tare into the bowl and place the half egg carefully on top with all the other trimmings. It's a good show while you wait, which isn't long. The large amount of seating at Market City means there's far more places to sit than other food courts, even on a busy Sunday afternoon.
Kaedama, adding an extra order of noodles to your soup, is a common practice in Japan. Here it's $1 for an extra serve. Make sure you save some of the soup at the bottom of your bowl first, then add the extra portion, maybe change the flavour base by adding some spicy tanaka pickle, then do it all again. With the ramen on the smaller side, it would be easy to do for any hungry sumo.
We are fans of the smaller sized bowls, which must also be a little better for your waistline too.
There are three large bowls of 'add your own fixins' here. Alison is overjoyed to find ginger pickles to add to her soup, they are sadly missing from many of the ramen joints around town or you need to pay extra.
White tonkotsu - $7.80. The basic building block of most of the soups here is the simple pork based broth. You can add additional flavours for a small price, or keep it simple and unadorned. There's a clean pork flavour, not too thick. The noodles are thin and straight and have a good bite to them. One piece of roast pork is all you get with this one, but then it again it is a bargain price. There's a Charshu option on the printed menu (it's not on the display board) if you need more roasted pig, or a prawn and vegetable option for the less pork inclined.
Red tonkotsu - $8.80. The addition of a kimchi-ish chilli flavour adds a different depth. Start eating, let it slowly dissolve and by the end you have a bowl of spicy porky, chilli soup, helpful to clear away any lurking colds or flu.
Mix the chili miso bomb in when you feel like it. The soup goes a bright red and has a satisfying chilli burn.
Black tonkotsu - $8.80. A slick of black garlic oil and a sprinkle of dried garlic give this soup its different flavour. It's not a strong flavour, a little too soft on the vampire fending off scale and while this is normally a favourite style it doesn't pack a wow. The ginger has been added from the generous self serve bowl.
Prawn and vegetable ramen - $11.80. A bigger version of the white tonkotsu with some veggies, black fungus, a few school prawns and a little minced pork. It's a busy bunch of flavours for a ramen but it works, the veggies have their own flavour but don't overpower the soup too much, you gotta like your veggies though. The flavours meld nicely into the broth by the end of the bowl. Very happy.
Pork donburi - $3. Chopped up bits of left over roast pork mixed in with bamboo shoots. A good addition if you are really hungry, but not a hugely interesting flavour. Worth it for the extra half of googie. There's also small sides of karaage chicken wings and gyoza for a few dollars.
Hakata-Maru Ramen is at Shop 3 Level 3 Market City, Haymarket.