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Is this Canberra’s best ramen…?

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Tucked away in an unassuming building in Belconnen and opening quietly in mid-November 2020, Ramen O has quickly become one of Canberra’s most popular ramen restaurants.

I first heard about it from one of my friends. This particular friend and I love Japan and Japanese food and are both also quite picky about our ramen (my favourite kind is tonkotsu, also known as Kyushu-style or Hakata, which is Ramen O’s specialty).

I knew Ramen O had to be good, firstly because she told me, and secondly, because she loved it so much she went back for more the day after her first visit.

My friend’s enthusiasm made me really keen to get there, but my first attempt was a fail. Within four days of opening, the word had already spread and by the time I arrived, the line was a good 45-minute wait for a table (I was hangry so definitely could not have held out. Turns out they also ran out of ramen 30 minutes after I tried to go, so it’s definitely good I didn’t wait that time).

My second attempt a few weeks later was happily much more successful (and ramen production levels had been refined). Accompanied by my brother and his fiancée, I arrived 15 minutes after opening time and while there was already a queue, this time I was prepared for the wait.

We used our time in line to peruse the menu online and decide what we wanted. We also used the opportunity to peer curiously at what people were eating at the bench table along the front window. This meant as soon as we were seated, we were up and ready at the counter to order.

My brother’s fiancée and I both chose the Ramen Wow! and were both very happy with this decision. The broth was rich and delicious, the pork was tender, the noodles were just the right texture, and the egg was cooked perfectly.

My brother decided to go all out with a Ramen Oh My God!. As the menu wasn’t clear if it came with anything else besides a lot of char ciu (and the answers to his questions were also unclear), he decided to add an egg just in case.

It turned out the ROMG is the same as a Ramen Wow! but with extra pork and half an egg (so he ended up with one and a half eggs, which he was quite pleased about). He was also very satisfied with his choice.

The three of us also shared a serve of pork gyoza—we were hungry when we ordered so went for the 10 piece serving but probably could have done just six or skipped them, as the ramen was really filling.

The gyoza were tasty—the casing was a good thickness and texture, the pan-fried parts were nicely crispy, and there was a decent amount of flavoursome filling in each one.

We ended our meal with dessert, a mochi daifuku each. These were really delicious and a lovely light way to end a heavy meal.

We appreciated the staff’s suggestion to wait for these to be brought out until after we’d finished the other food, as it gave our stomachs a bit of time to settle and also meant the mochi was cold and refreshing when we were ready to eat them.

My friend had also recommended the specialty tea by Spring Street Gardens, so I tried the Forest Bathing with mulberry, burdock, eyebright and rosehip. It was pleasant and went well with the ramen, and I’d like to try the other types of tea when I go back.

Ramen O is definitely the best ramen I’ve had in Canberra, and I will happily go back. If you decide to try it, do be prepared to wait, as they don’t take bookings and the word about it is well and truly out.

But the wait is worth it and if you’ve been to a ramen restaurant in Japan, you’ll know that lining up for a good bowl of the stuff is all part of the experience.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Ramen O
Where:  1F/54 Benjamin Way, Belconnen (in the Belconnen Churches Centre)
When: Monday-Thursday 11.30am-1.30pm, 5.30-7.30pm, Friday 11.30am-1.30pm, 6-8pm
Food: Japanese
Drink: Teas and soft drinks
Contact: Visit their Facebook page

 

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