Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ajisen Ramen, Melbourne CBD by Snooze

Big Fil and I checked out one of the three Ajisen Ramen outlets in Melbourne; the one on Bourke Street in the CBD. Another one is shortly to open above the Melbourne Central train station.

Big Fil mentioned it's part of a chain, and given what I know about Japanese food and ramen noodles is poor, I decided to investigate a little further. I was amazed at how popular Ajisen Ramen is; there must be several hundred outlets around the world including over 100 in Shanghai. The second thing of interest to me was the trademark little girl name Chii-chan used on their stores and packed noodles. She is very cute and there was a 3 foot version of her just inside the door; I think I squealed with excitement and made sure Big Fil took a photo of her. Big Fil thought she was the best thing about the whole place and wanted to sneak her off under his arm!

First thoughts about the interior is it’s dark and cavernous. It would be easy to hide in a corner and never be found. And the noise—I don’t know if it was the bare walls or the tiled floors but when the restaurant was full it was hard to hear yourself over the noise.

Given Ajisen Ramen is all about the ramen noodles Big Fil and I each got a bowl full but started with an Ikayaki entrée between us.

I liked the Ikayai, grilled squid with Ponzu sauce and mayonnaise. There was something unusual (good) about the flavour that neither of us could quite put our finger on at the time, a faint taste of vinegar, and looking into what ponzu sauce I realise that's what it was (ponzu being a vinegar based sauce). The squid was cooked exactly as it should be. Ponzu is hard to explain, but I like trying new things, something with some familiar elements but other touches I haven’t tried before and trying to work out where they come from.

Big Fil’s choice was the Tonkatsu Ramen with deep fried pork, egg and vegetables. I didn’t try this but Big Fil’s view was that it was a bit disappointing. While the serve was very generous the pork was a little dry and he wasn’t particularly enamoured with either the soup or the noodles.

My choice was the Gyoza Ramen with egg and vegetables. The gyoza were good, with a good skin and filling but they were a little overcooked by the time I ate them—my bad for leaving them too long. But I don’t think the broth was anything special, there was an awful lot of noodles and very little vegetable.

The wider Asian region offers plenty of great options for soup: Pho from Vietnam, Ramen from Japan, Laksa from Malaysia. But while Ajisen Ramen offers plenty of options I think there must be better places to get ramen. Not to mention the noise level at Ajisen Ramen coupled together with it feeling like a school canteen left me longing for something less popular with better food. As we were leaving Fil commented that based on his limited experiences, the standard of Ramen available around Melbourne isn’t as good as either the Pho nor the Laksa.

Food – 6.5
Service – 6.5
Ambience – 6
Price – 6.5

130 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9662 1100

Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

yes i didn't exactly like this one either

Bureaucrat said...

i've been to the one in glen waverley twice recently. both times i was pretty impressed with food there. i'll be blogging abt it soon-ish.

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