As a result of an incorrectly scheduled event in my diary, my Thursday evening was free and my Hubby and I had a spontaneous date night in ‘downtown Chinatown’ for dinner. What a treat!
After ‘studying’ my latest copy of ‘Time Out Sydney’ Magazine all day and reading up on the features of the ‘Food Awards 2009′ – I was armed and informed with enough food recommendations to try out for tonight, and being around Chinatown – I suggested we try out ‘Gumshara Ramen’ for a ‘thrifty’ and easy meal as we were both pretty tired from our day.
I gave my Hubby the challenge of parking – considering it was on a Thursday evening, that if we fail to find a parking spot in Chinatown, we will have to go home and eat the left overs that he made the other night… ( He did this Moroccan Lentil Soup from a ‘Food Safari’ receipe on the SBS website! heheh and we still had PLENTY left over. The Hubby didn’t know how much lentils can ‘expand’ whilst cooking! heheh)
So as we both shuddered at the idea of eating more lentils… we hoped and prayed for a parking spot.
And THANK GOD that after only circling once around Liverpool St, we found a spot nearby on Dixon St. (Yay! No Lentils!)
We walk towards ‘Eating World’ Food court ( a place which I have not been to since high school…days long ago when catching a bus from the North to the City was the thing to do!) On our way, we walk pass ‘Mamak’ and the queue outside was starting to grow all the way around the newly renovated restaurant front and near to the dumpling place on the corner. (Note to self: Must come back and try Mamak again soon.)
Walking into Eating World, we immediately spot the raved-on-about place of ‘Gumshara Ramen’. It is the first thing you see as you walk through the electronic slide doors. A modest little counter with a huge cardboard sign of pictures showing the various ramen in ’100% Real Australian Pork’ stock.
( I am also informed that ‘Gumshara’ means ‘ The Chronic or ‘The Strong one’ in Japanese and the soup takes about seven days to make with 120kg of pork bones, water and miso…….Nice!)
Most, if not all reviews I have read about this place has been saying how ‘thick and gluttonous’ the stock is. I read a sign at the counter that saids: ‘If you prefer less salty or thick soup, please inform staff’ ‘ Okay! ….but we didn’t
So my mouth and lips were prepared to be ‘collagen’ and inside of my mouth ready to be ‘glued’ together…..sounds great already. Hmm.
After ordering – Hubby ordered the No.#1 and I the No.#2 – he had more pork slices in his plus a ‘seasoned egg’ for $1.50 which we would share, thinking the golden yolk looked so rich in the picture. He also orders some ‘pickled cabbage’ for $1.50 – as he is a sensible eater and likes his veggies. ( Although I think this barely counts, but was the only thing available that looked green or resembled to vegetables…) We later discover this cabbage was a an ‘order fail’ The taste wasn’t what we were expecting and was some what disappointing. Not to worry – for a $1.50 we can except the strangely pickled cabbage with chilli flakes.
While waiting – I take a sneak peek behind the red curtain and see the ‘Ramen Chef – Dan Hong’ was stirring away over his huge pot of stock with a large ‘stick’. He would stir and then with a small hand held ‘shovel’ – gather more pork bones from a nearby cardboard box into his stock and stir. I gather this was a separate pot of stock, as apparently each stock takes about seven days to make to ensure it’s heartiness and flavour. I am pleased to know that no MSG is added to this stock – so I will not be needing to down liters of water tonight before bed, as I would have to at another Ramen establishment over in the north …
I watch with much interest as Chef Dan Hong cooks his noodles in the individual noodle ‘hand held strainers’ – and gathers a handful of ramen into the strainer, then quickly hand flick the water straight onto the floor… (mind you, he is wearing wellies and the floor is quiet wet from the water….) My husband and I both watch in amusement – although the kitchen is small and appears clean and tidy, the floor is wet – and we now see why, as with each bowl of noodle made, the water is strained onto the floor……interesting.
We also observe the busy waitress helping both to take orders, collect money and then go and help the chef ‘measure’ the right amount of thick hot broth into the black lacquer bowls with a chopstick. She stands a chopstick vertically inside the bowl to make sure the same amount of soup is poured in… ( I think to myself ‘ the writer in Time Out was not kidding when they said they can ‘stand a chopstick in the thick soup..!)
Waiting no longer than 7 minutes or so, our bowls of ramen is ready and we eagerly take our order, smile politely to the Chef as he caught my eye looking at him and give him a Japanese ‘nod’ of appreciation. I like that. I respect a chef who can cook honestly with his heart ( especially when he announces that 100% pork is used and no MSG on his sign) and that he would also take the time to smile at his customers from inside the kitchen.
My Hubby and I find a seat in the crowded food court – funny how much this place has changed and gone into renovations since the ‘dark 90′s’ when the place was slightly dodgy and had food counters that was not as pleasing as the ones on offer today. ( Note to self: Must come back and try all the other stalls as well, especially the Asian/Cantonese food stand next to Gumshara where it was lined with people who looked mostly like uni students… great prices and long queues is a sign of only good food right? Also the other Japanese place looked pretty good too for Katsu Don with rice and miso for $7.50, Indonesian food and Thai food… oh so much to sample!)
Now …. back to the ramen.
From the looks – I could already sense how THICK this soup was going to taste. I could barely see through to the noodles as the ramen looked all tangled in this deep ‘blanket’ of saucy, brown, soup/sauce! I made sure that I was prepared with some complimentary salted pickled ginger in the condiments area – as I think I will need it to break up the ‘gluggyness’ of this broth!
So we dig in…. and the first slurp with the steam rushing up to our faces was just delightful! Just as expected for a cold night from a big bowl of comforting noodles, broth that soothes the tummy and makes our lips stick together from the collagen. ( I am thinking how my Mum needs to have a few bowls of this to strengthen her joints instead of taking her boring Glutamate tablets!) Also for a while as we happily pull up strands of the ramen goodness – I was reminded of our ramen hunting days while in Japan, especially in Kyoto after our 2 hour bullet train ride. It was very rich and flavoursome and not as ‘manufacturered’ as some other ‘franchised’ stores.
The sign reads: ‘ Our food is made by traditional Japanese way to cook which uses fresh pork bone and water, NO MSG is used. The richness of the soup comes from the marrow of the bone and soft bone. It contains alot of collagen which is essential to maintain a good skin’ ‘Mmmm ~ good skin I thought…. I am totally up for that!’
The ramen is quite ‘al dente’ and slippery as we slurp up more ramen + soup. The soup is also scattered with freshly chopped green spring onions which is nice to break up the richness of the soup. I would recommend to eat this quick and fast – as I was starting to see the soup ‘setting’ and a ‘skin’ of it was developing on the surface already from the air. *Slurp!Slurp!* The few slices of the ‘cha siu’ ( pork) floats on top and the taste is pretty pleasant, not too salty or tasteless but just right. It was quite ‘fatty’ in the pieces and the first piece was welcomed however the pieces to follow with the heavy soup, soon became a little too much for my palatte and I needed more ‘pickled ginger’ and ‘pickled cabbage’ to break up the fattiness. Overall, the pork slices are well balanced in their flavour and is one of the better ones I have tried. The nori that comes stuck on the inside of the bowl was soggy – and not crispy or large as the one at Ryo’s ramen – yet I did not mind it too much, as it was all about the soup here anyways and the soup definitely delivered as one of the thickest, richest and unique of its kind here in Sydney. I can see how they would have secured their place as No#1 for Noodles as voted for in ‘Time Out’ Magazine (Issue No# 60 August – $3.95 at newsagency)
About the end of our bowls ( well, mine half way finished) where our lips were ‘sticky’ from the gluttony soup and our mouths heavily lined with collagen and our lips had to be wiped not once or twice but with much force to clean the remains off …. we were waving our ‘invisible white flag’ as to give up and leave our bloated bellies be. We were FULL and honestly, could not bare another spoon of the thick soup that have us both grasping our tummies and craving for a cold fizzy drink to wash it all down!
Overall, the ramen was satisfying – yet this may not be something I can find myself eating more than once a month as the actual meal itself is too rich for my liking and I would have been better off sharing a bowl between the two. I see this as a treat to have once in a while – kind of like the comfort of ‘butter’ – it is tasty and rich and delicious in small portions, as well as the ‘naughty’ larger portions…. this Gumshara broth will be best appreciated in small doses.
Feeling very ‘pregnant’ with food and with soup – we were still determined to go check out the asian desert house that I also read up about on a few food blogs sites ( sorry ~ memory slips from me at this time of night…note to self: blog earlier) and on SMH about ‘LNC’ Desert House on Dixon St.
This was the place we ‘piked’ out on last week after our dinner at ‘Chat Thai’ and Japanese photo booths…. we were all too full last time from Thai and Passionflower, that we said we would reserve LNC for another Food Safari Day/Night… and so tonight…. was the night!
I was so happy that The Hubby agreed even though we were about to explode with ramen. ( Sorry for the gross imagery! Would share with you how we REALLY felt with the soup caught in our throats… but I better not! Oh I think I just did… opps! heheh)
LNC Desert house is at Dixon Street in Chinatown – so our short stroll over was very welcomed as anything to walk off our bulge was a good thing.
To read about our post dinner desert at LNC Desert House ~ please visit again soon, I promise the pictures will be up and looking beautiful …. and I will also throw in a special ‘Japanese boyband MTV’ Hubby and I watched while scooping at our Red Bean Slushie with Coconut gelato and Green Macha Pearl Tea. It was pretty entertaining! So come back and visit soon!
Thanks for dropping by and reading!
Ps) We strolled past ‘Sushi Rio’ on the way to LNC – which is another place my friend has told me about and loves! It is actually one of their favourite sushi places and we can see why, with the long queues also parked outside waiting for seats. ( Note to self: Must bring the family here for a night out. Curtis would love it!)