Tenkomori Ramen House is a successful Sydney restaurant, and when Sophie Do and partner Yong Wei visited Canberra a few years ago, they knew they wanted to bring it to the capital.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek and meet the team ahead of their opening last weekend.
This is the first time Tenkomori has franchised out to another location, and Sydney owner Tomo Kita tells me that he was keen to make sure that the Canberra space has its own identity. The Sydney shop is a fast-paced, high turnover space in George Street, but the team is eager to put the focus on table service to encourage a more relaxed vibe for the Canberra shop.
The space has another personalised touch: a large feature wall showing an Osaka streetscape. Yong Wei snapped the photo himself last time he and Sophie travelled to Japan.
There are already several popular ramen restaurants in Canberra, which Sophie says might be because so many Canberrans have – like them – travelled in Japan and love the culture and food. But she’s not worried about opening another as she says they are offering something different.
As Tomo explains: “We have many types of ramen soup and different choices of noodles. So the customer can choose what they want. They choose the topping, they can choose the soup, and they can choose the noodle, so they can make their own ramen!”
Tomo has travelled to Canberra to assist the team as they establish themselves. He is training the kitchen staff and teaching them the menu to have the same great flavours that their Sydney customers love. He says that it’s very important to him that the dishes are authentic and made in the traditional style,
“We want it to be at an affordable price, but it also has to have the authentic flavour. Our challenge is to find the balance.”
To achieve this, they buy specialty ingredients from Japan to get the perfect savoury umami broth base, but Tomo tells me he prefers Australian noodles because of the high quality of the flour.
I try some fried gyoza dumplings and takoyaki octopus balls to start with. Both are delicious. The gyoza is crispy on the bottom and has a tasty filling. The octopus balls are served with a smokey Japanese-style barbecue sauce and mayo with bonito fish flakes on top.
Tomo explains that the presentation of the food is in the tenkomori style, meaning the food is piled high to look like a mountain. It’s clear when they bring my bowl of ramen that they’ve taken tenkomori seriously!
I ordered the Tenkomori Ramen with tonkatsu pork broth and a regular serving of ramen noodles. This dish comes with slices of chashu pork, mushrooms, soy egg and lots of fresh spring onion. The pork is rich and tasty, and the broth is exactly what I need on a cold, wet day. There are lots of interesting textures and flavours in the toppings, so although it’s a large bowl, I always have something different in each spoonful. This time I chose a mild broth, but I think I might be brave and try the spicy tonkatsu next time.
Another difference from the Sydney location is that the Canberra restaurant will also function as a bar serving Japanese whiskey and sake in the evenings. They are currently waiting on their liquor licence so Sophie makes me a Magic Butterfly Lemonade mocktail with a beautiful colour gradient courtesy of butterfly pea flowers. The mocktail menu has many other colourful concoctions, and if you have room in your tummy after your mountain of ramen, there is even matcha or black sesame ice cream for dessert!
Tenkomori has already seen great success with their grand opening last weekend, and they’re offering 20 per cent off to customers until 13 November 2021. And with more rain on the way, it’s the perfect time to tuck into a nourishing mountain of soup.
Tenkomori Ramen House is open 7 days a week. You can find them at Constitution Place, 220 London Cct, Canberra.
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