Goshu Ramen Tei, Wynyard

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) ! That's a phrase you've probably heard often when eating at a Japanese restaurant, shouted above the sounds of the kitchen and buzz of diners by single or multiple sushi chefs as new patrons enter through the door. It means 'welcome', but what you probably didn't know is that it's also common for shop employees in Japan to greet customers with the same phrase, which is what we experienced on holiday there last year. It isn't always expected and welcoming, though, - on many occasions we witnessed retailers saying (or sometimes even shouting) it spontaneously while patrolling the aisles of their shops, perhaps to remind customers that they are there to help. But only in Japan.

Enter Goshu Ramen Tei, a hole-in-the-wall Japanese ramen joint up near the Wynyard Park end of Wynyard Station (York St exit) in the heart of Sydney. You don't hear Irasshimase upon entering (most of the seating is outside), but it does have that authentic Japanese ramen stall-style feel. On this busy weekday, it's lunchtime and we notice that all the tables are occupied, full of both small and larger groups of predominantly office workers chowing into comforting bowls of homey Japanese food. Next door to this eatery is another aptly named noodle restaurant called Ramen Condor, and you may be forgiven for mistaking one for the other. Today, however, it seems that Goshu Ramen Tei is the more popular of the two.

Ramen is the specialty dish here, as hinted by the name, and a range of rice dishes (Don), Udon, Teppanyaki and Bento are on the menu too, as well as tempting Japanese curry and rice sets. Most of the seating is outdoors on simple wicker chairs and wooden tables, although there are a couple of cosier tables inside around the corner from the kitchen. Because of the wind tunnels in the city, sitting outside at lunch (or dinner) can get a bit chilly, so a thoughtful touch is added by the cosy, plush, red blankets draped over the arm of every few chairs. We wait for no more than five minutes before a table becomes free for us, and after that the Japanese waiters are quick and efficient with service. As we wait we watch as multiple bowls of steaming hot ramen pass us by on the way out of the kitchen to eager diners around us. Mmm...

Gyoza ($8.50)

The first thing that arrives is gyoza, a small plate of 6 dainty, perfectly coloured dumplings accompanied by a vinegar-soy sauce concoction. They are crisp and tasty upon first bite, and are tasty with not too much nor too little filling.

Sashimi Bento Box with Chicken Teriyaki ($21)

Next is the chicken teriyaki bento box. The attractive thing about Goshu is that when ordering a bento you are able to pick and choose the options to your taste and budget - some come with a main dish, salad, agedashi tofu and miso, and others with added dishes such as sashimi or tempura (or both) and wagyu steak. You can even swap the tofu for edamame, or opt for fried rice instead of boiled. The serving is generous, with the chicken moist and plentiful cut in small manageable pieces mixed with capsicum on top of a pile of crispy noodles. The sashimi is fresh and thick, and the agedashi has a nice batter but is a little bit cold.

Chicken Teriyaki Ramen ($14)

Ramen time. The chicken teriyaki ramen has a soy soup base - my personal favourite soup style as I find it's not as heavy or rich as the tonkotsu or miso base but still just as tasty. Sometimes referred to as Tokyo-style ramen, the one I order has to be the best soy-based ramen I've ever had (well, so far..). The soup is deep and rich, with a large pile of squiggly, egg-yellow noodles swimming about in amongst bean sprouts, slivers of shallot and corn topped with a sprinkling of deep fried shallots. This is just enough to make be conmpletely satisfied, a good serving size with lots of bite-sized pieces of tasty, tender chicken.

Miso Ramen ($12.50)

This the more traditional style of ramen (as well as the popular Tonkotsu) - coming with the quintessential toppings of sliced roast pork, bamboo, corn, bean sprouts, half a soft, googie boiled egg and a sheet of dried seaweed. It's addictive upon first sip but as you eat away at the noodles the taste gets heavier and more concentrated; I had to finish CK's as she'd reached the point of fullness. 

Kara-age Ramen ($14.50)

Unlike Kara-age you might find elsewhere, this dish of deep fried, slightly spiced chicken doesn't resemble its Kentucky-fried equivalent at all. The batter is thin and fried until almost a brown-red colour, light and delicious. It comes in the noodle soup, but we take it out to save the crispiness. This too has a miso flavoured soup base. 

Tan-Tan Ramen ($15)

The Tan Tan Ramen is Goshu's original ramen, with a sesame flavoured soup base, pork mince and yummy vegetables like bok choy, chilli and woody ear mushroom. I must say that it looked extremely inviting and somewhat spicy when it arrived on the table, and Dad remarked after having finished his whole bowl that he was indeed extremely full, most likely due to the filling soup. 

Goshu Ramen Tei is a fantastic place to go for an authentic Japanese Ramen that won't stretch your pockets or wallet. Although it may be on the higher price end compared to other Ramen places you can find elsewhere in the city or suburbs, the quality and concentration of their noodle soups really is worth paying a visit for. Be mindful though that a number of their dishes contain peanuts, and that a minimum order worth $12.50 applies for each person (a side cost for being located in the heart of the city, I guess). Service is fast and friendly, and the atmosphere is good if you don't mind squeezing in for an outside seat during the busy weekday lunch rush. Ooh and they're open for dinner too, which is a plus. We'll definitely be coming back again to try the Japanese Curry, Dons and more Ramen. I've just read on Urbanspoon that they're now under new management (as of 25th April), so we hope that another visit in the new future will bring quality fare that is just as comforting and wonderful as it was upon our first visit.

Itadakimasu (いただきます) ! That's what the Japanese say before they begin their meal, literally meaning 'I humbly receive'. 

Goshu Ramen Tei on Urbanspoon

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