Inside it has that 'hole in the wall' type feel with bare brick walls, wooden tables and seating. Reproductions of posters of glamorous women in kimonos and flapper dress line the walls, and the place has a pleasant low level hum without being overly noisy or crowded.
The menu offers ten or so different versions of ramen, as well as gyoza and a few other small snacky treats. I'd never really been able to get into ramen in Melbourne. Whether it's the dish itself, the way it's prepared here or simply the places I've tried it, it has always been the poor cousin to pho and laksa. I was keen to see if Little Ramen Bar could be my ramen epiphany, the place that convinces me that yes, ramen is good and I need to get more ramen into my life.
The dish which would need to do this was the chashu tamago, apparently their most popular dish. Available in three different varieties including shoyu and shio I decided on the miso, not for any particular reason. The pork was tender and reasonably generous, the noodles nicely cooked and springy, but the thing I liked most was my soft boiled egg. This was perfect, with the yolk soft and just the tiniest bit runny. If I did order it again though I'd choose one of the other two soups, as I found the flavour of the miso quite strong compared to the softer pork and egg flavours.
Snoozes choice was the Shoyu Ramen, with bean sprouts, seaweed, bamboo sprouts, spring onion and BBQ Pork. Snooze was a fan of the broth and I did like the bamboo sprouts, and it came with the same nice pork (even if just the one slice). Both our servings were generous to the extent that I struggled to finish, and Snooze gave up a battle she wasn't going to win.
While I did enjoy this more than perhaps any other ramen I've had in Melbourne, it still didn't feel like a match for my favourite laksas and phos. For some reason the soup bases of these dishes really do it for me in a way that no ramen I've tried ever has. My search for ramen that really hits the spot goes on...
Food - 7
Ambience - 7
Service - 7.5
Price - 7
346 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: (03) 9670 5558