Surprisingly, Brisbane is one of the best places in Australia for ramen, with dozens of restaurants offering traditional bowls as well as modern Aussie takes on this classic dish. With a growing Japanese population, ramen restaurants are popping up all along the East Coast, and Aussies are mad for it. Here are some of the best places to slurp some noodles.
Where: Across the river from the CBD, find Junk next to Brisbane’s manmade beach on Southbank. Don’t be surprised if fellow diners walk in barefoot.
Atmosphere: Junk is always bustling. It’s fast, casual dining that serves Asian cuisine with a western twist, like their JFC: crispy Korean fried chicken with a tangy orange sauce. Their ramen comes with crunch bamboo and a slow-cooked gooey-in-the-middle egg.
Design notes: Bamboo steamers hanging from ceiling and graphic artwork plastered on the walls give this restaurant a Hawker-style feel.
Dish to order: As one of the simpler items on the menu, it’s the pickled bamboo that brings Junk’s ramen alive with a sour crunch.
11 Little Stanley Street, South Brisbane
Where: Find this stylish little ramen bar tucked away in a charcoal-painted worker’s cabin in West Brisbane.
Atmosphere: A true local haunt, you might find yourself the only tourist at Hai Hai. An escape from the bustle of the city, it’s ideal for a quiet lunch to catch up with friends.
Design notes: Minimal timber stools and white walls make sure all the focus is on the food, with framed Japanese posters the only nod to its Asian theme.
Dish to order: The sign of good ramen joint is few dishes, cooked to perfection. Locals know there’s only one choice though: the smoked brisket razeman. This soup-less ramen is a non-traditional take, bursting with citrus flavours.
102 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington
Where: A tight community of hipsters and new-agers, West End is Brisbane’s answer to Byron Bay. Find Miso Hapi on Boundary Street, the hub of the laid-back district.
Atmosphere: Famous as a late-night sushi haunt, visit after 9pm to see Miso Hapi come alive, as it gradually turns from restaurant to bustling bar.
Design notes: Snug seating, bright pink walls and Japanese street art make for the perfect mix of West End and Tokyo. Traditional wooden ladders and a mural of the rising sun flag transport you straight to the backstreets of Shinjuku.
Dish to order: Great news for vegetarians – the menu is full of veggie and vegan options, but for ramen-lovers, the karage chicken shio is one not to miss. The broth is thick and salty and if you’re looking for a challenge – ask for it spicy.
124 Boundary Street, West End
Where: Just a few stops up the river from the CBD on the river boat, find Genkotsu around the corner from the famous Regatta hotel in Toowong.
Atmosphere: Genkotsu is for true ramen lovers. Warm hanging lights create a cosy glow away from the modern Japanese style, perfect for the occasional chilly day in Brisbane.
Design notes: Inspired by the owners’ own childhoods in Japan, there is a 1960s Tokyo vibe with hand-painted red brick walls and burnt timber tables.
Dish to order: For an Australian twist on a Japanese classic, try the salty soft-shell crab ramen, with nitamgao (boiled eggs) marinated in the rich Genkotsu sauce overnight.
51 Sherwood Road, Toowong
Where: Jump off the train at South Bank and you’ll probably hear the shouts coming from Harajuku Gyoza.
Atmosphere: The deafening greeting of “Irasshaimase!” will alarm any first timer. Far from being a boring dining experience, order the sake to hear waiters sing over the hum of satisfied customers.
Design notes: Kitsch Japanese plates line the walls and bring some Tokyo colour to the rich, dark interior. An open kitchen means that diners can watch the mastery of the chefs, whose silky-smooth ramen has earned the restaurant a cult following in Brisbane.
Dish to order: With only one ramen option, Harajuku is the perfect choice for an indecisive diner. Their ramen with ginger chicken and sriracha broth will prove they’re good at more than their namesake.
184 Grey Street, Southbank