When husband and wife team Shun and Yuki Ota opened Ramen O in late 2020, it caused something of a stir.
Within days there were lines of hungry ramen lovers out the door as people descended on the tiny store to slurp up bowls of noodle soup. Now Southsiders can experience the queue-worthy ramen closer to home with Ramen O opening the doors of their second location in Woden.
While their Belconnen store found success despite its unassuming location on Benjamin Street, the new shop is tucked into a corner of Woden’s up-and-coming Furzer Street dining precinct, alongside newcomers The Alby, Bloom Cafe, and another Belconnen ex-pat, Short Eats. The small restaurant has an understated decor, with a display of Japanese teapots as a feature on one wall. A large print immediately catches the eye as you enter, reading: Keep Calm and Order & Pay Here!
Chef Shun serves the Kyushu-style Tonkotsu Soy Ramen with a rich pork broth that forms the basis for their most popular Oh! Wow! and OMG! dishes. There are also vegetarian options that use a soy milk base to form a creamy broth that rivals the meaty version in depth of flavour.
Arriving early, my friends and I managed to grab a table on opening day for lunch. We each ordered a bowl of ramen and 10 pieces of vegetarian gyoza (Japanese pan-fried dumplings) to share. The space filled up quickly as public servants arrived for their lunch breaks, and plenty of passersby looked at the busy space with interest.
I ordered a Spicy Ramen and my friends ordered the vegetarian Ramen Beautiful.
The Spicy Ramen is the same as the standard bowl of Ramen Oh! with a good dollop of chilli paste added. I was given a choice between three spice levels, and while I toyed with trying the extra spicy option, I decided to play it safe. And I was glad I did! The effects of the chilli paste soon had me red in the face and taking off layers as it warmed me from the inside out. It was exactly at my tolerance level, but I’d recommend having the chilli paste on the side for anyone unsure how much heat they could handle.
All our food was served quickly and with care. Our plate of gyoza to share was served with a dipping sauce and a dab of chilli paste (which I carefully avoided!) The well-stuffed vegetable gyoza has a very thin pastry skin that is pan-fried to achieve a deliciously crispy base.
The char ciu pork in the ramen melted in my mouth, and I’m a big fan of the classic toppings like bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, and perfectly gooey boiled eggs. The spicy ramen also has corn, which I don’t always like, but I found that the sweetness was an excellent contrast to the spicy broth.
Next time I return I’m keen to try the Yuzu Ramen, or their R&D meal, which has half-size ramen, daifuku (a traditional glutinous rice cake dessert) and a drink. I’m always too full for anything else after full-size ramen so this sounds like a great choice! There is also a meal option for kids with a toned-down ramen broth, dumplings and juice.
A dedicated takeaway menu and outdoor seating on warmer days will probably decrease the chances of those legendary queues, but early signs are good for this Southside sister to find the same success as the Belconnen store.
Ramen O can be found at 54 Benjamin way Belconnen, and also at G09 35 Furzer Street, Phillip (opposite the Alby). It’s open Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 1:30 pm for lunch; Monday to Thursday from 5:30 pm with last orders at 7:30 pm for dinner service. Friday and Saturday from 5:30 pm with last orders at 8 pm. Closed Sunday. More details on Facebook or Instagram.