Ramen lovers rejoice; Kingsford’s popular Manpuku Ramen has opened a second restaurant in Chatswood. The menu varies only slightly from the Eastern Suburbs original, which is popular among Uni students and ramen-lovers alike for its authentic broth. Where the Kingsford branch has a slightly more Japanese, ramen-ya (ramen restaurant) feel, the Chatswood shop is more contemporary, a light, spacious interior featuring pale wood furnishings and white rope draped across the ceiling to create a relaxed atmosphere. It is settled on the quiet end of Victoria Avenue, away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area.
Chef Suzuki Hideto has been cooking ramen for over 10 years, and we’re told he uses about one tonne of pork and chicken bones per week to make Manpuku’s popular ramen. That’s a lot of bones! The broth is made in one batch and then transported to both branches.
Manpuku offers two popular traditional ramen styles, Tori Gara and Tonkotsu – which are available in two bases. The first is shoyu, a soy-based ramen which uses 7 different kinds of soy-sauce sourced especially from Japan. These are combined using different ratios for the perfect flavour. The other is shio, meaning salt in Japanese, and it’s cooked with 4 kinds of salt – from the mountain, lake, land and sea. Also on the menu is a miso ramen, with 3 kinds of Japanese miso, and chilli and garlic variations, as well as a special pork and chicken soup which is not available anywhere else in Australia.
Handmade noodles are similarly made from different kinds of dough. There’s premium dry, medium straight and wavy; each with different moisture ratios suited to the various broth styles. Those who are still hungry can order noodle refills, as well as extra toppings like menma (bamboo shoots), kikurage mushrooms, cabbage and even butter.
If you’d like a little bit more to go with your ramen, there are sides, too. How about some crispy gyoza, takoyaki or a pork belly Cha Shu mini rice bowl?
Chubby sticks of cucumber are marinated in soy and sesame oil, giving it a delicious, pickle-like texture that is neither ultra-crunchy nor very soft. It’s got a bit of a chilli kick, and topped with a dusting of soybean powder. A refreshing, addictive snack.
Plain Gyoza ($5.50)
Intricate, golden webbing is plastered onto one side of pork gyoza, which bites open to reveal a succulent, tasty meat filling. The slippery wrapper provides contrast to the crispy, caramelised bottom.
Even though there are only three pieces of Japanese fried chicken, each is a hefty size, cooked with a delicious, bubbly skin. The chicken is marinated in soy, sake, mirin, ginger and garlic prior to being fried, and is wonderfully moist and juicy.
Search photos of Manpuku on the internet and you’ll find images of their logo stamped across nori sheets. The white print is created using calcium, a personalised touch which adds a little bit of fun to the dining experience. This only features in some of their ramen – of the ones we tried only the Gara Shoyu had the special seaweed sheet.
Gara Shoyu ($11.90)
Gara Shoyu is a soy-based chicken soup with medium straight noodles, considered to be their signature ramen. It’s not hard to see why – the broth has a pungent, clean chicken flavour and a deep, rich colour sprinkled with shallots, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots. Despite it being a chicken soup, the protein is Cha Shu: two rounds of luscious, fat-marbled pork. The medium straight noodles have a soft, yielding bite.
Tonkotsu Shoyu ($12.90)
The Tonkotsu soup is created by simmering pork marrow bones for 6 hours, before leaving it overnight to let the flavours develop. The fat from the collagen released from the bones mixes with water in the stock to create that iconic pale colour and creamy flavour. Unlike other Tonkotsu soups, which can often be overwhelmingly rich, this soup has a delicate, rounded flavour that is perfectly balanced. The premium dry noodles have more of a toothsome bite than those in the Gara Shoyu ramen, a kind of chewy texture which we find goes well with this ramen style.
Gyokai Tonkotsu ($14.90)
On their special menu, this ramen combines their rich garlic flavoured broth with a hint of fish flavour, featuring their wheaty premium dry noodles. It has a dark, alluring colour from the black garlic, and although there’s no actual fish in the ramen itself, the delicious seafood undertone is extracted from the 2 types of bonito flakes added to the stock. This is a strong, piquant ramen – not for those who prefer milder flavours. The free range egg that comes in every ramen is perfectly simmered in Japanese soy sauce to attain a glinting, gooey yolk and flavoursome white. It has a luscious texture, and soaks up the broth well.
Strawberry Chilled Cream Mochi ($2.50)
Mochi, that glutinous, chewy Japanese rice cake, is made into a wrapper which encases a deep pink, strawberry flavoured paste surrounding a pearl of chilled cream. The strawberry flavour is strong without being too sweet or artificial. It’s a tasty chilled dessert that is the perfect bite size.
Taiyaki is a traditional Japanese pancake filled with red bean paste. Served steaming hot, it has a deep brown exterior which is so crispy it makes us smile with glee, and the batter is fluffy and soft on the inside. The red bean paste is a favourite filling – it has a nice, slightly chunky texture and good level of sweetness.
A partnered restaurant with Washoku Lovers, meaning it’s accredited with serving authentic Japanese food made by a chef who learned in Japan or from a Japanese chef, Manpuku serves genuine ramen on Sydney’s north shore. In open at this second location, Chef Suzuki expands his passion for ramen without compromising on quality, a dedication which is evident in his comforting broth that is so revered by ramen lovers everywhere.
226 Victoria Avenue,
Contributed by Maddie, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys