Shujinko

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Umami, umami, umami!!!

For those unfamiliar with this term, it refers to savoury taste (as opposed to bitter, sweet, sour, salty). The fact that this was all I could mutter to myself as I ate this delicious bowl of ramen is no coincidence. Umami is a Japanese word, and perfectly describes the experience of dipping those glorious noodles into the luscious broth. So much flavour!

Ramen has become such a popular thing in recent times, and I am not immune to the allure of this fabulous pork broth, coupled with noodles and pork, that raise this dish to an artform. If I understand correctly, ramen is a relatively new invention. I say relatively, because Japan is steeped in history. I always admire the stories of dedication to tradition that seem to abound in this country. This newer dish is not immune to this same level of meticulous attention to detail.

There are so many different variations of ramen, and each place seems to put their own spin on the theme. I particularly wanted to come to Shujinko for the tsukemen ramen. This very modern version is set apart from the others by the way the noodles are served separately from the broth. When eating, you dip the noodles in the broth and then slurp away.

Those noodles were just perfect by the way. Perhaps the major advantage of serving them separately is they maintain a much firmer texture. The pleasing “bite” of the noodles, coupled with the extremely savoury nature of the broth were a divine combination that provided so much mouthfeel and umami. The pork (tonkotsu) simply fell apart. Not ideal when chopsticks are the tool of choice, but this texture complimented the whole experience perfectly.

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So, I hope now that I have established the ramen here is divine. On to other matters…

Finding the correct shop was the first issue. This has recently been rebranded as Shujinko. I had heard about some changes, but was looking for the original name “Menya Sandaime.” A few blank stares and some Google map advice confirmed we were in the right place eventually. As is typical for ramen shops, there is no booking. The most popular always have a line out the front. This is a good thing I think. A sure sign that you’re in for something special. Also typical is the atmosphere inside; bustling with activity, and the never ending “sumimasen” being called out from staff to customers.

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The ordering experience was a little below par. There was a lot of confusion between myself and the waitress, but we got there in the end… kind of. I asked for her advice, and she proferred that extra pork and leek was the best way to go. I wanted to follow her advice, but it seems there was a slight misunderstanding. What we received was one bowl with extra pork and one bowl with extra leek, rather than extra pork and leek on both.

This turned out to be a fortunate mistake for my dining companion, who had the extra pork. Me on the other hand, not so lucky. The extra leek was just too much in the end. Despite brushing my teeth twice in the hours following the meal, I could not get the burn of those leeks out of my mouth.

In a nutshell, I would go back here in a heartbeat. Just so good!

Menya Sandaime Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gami Fried Chicken

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Another in my fried chicken series, and I think I’m already finding my feet in this new genre of casual dining. Was recommended to Gami by a friend, and they were absolutely correct. Delicious chicken here.

I came on a dreary, rain-soaked Friday lunchtime. The place was completely empty. Whilst I was a little concerned at this, I sat myself down and pretended not to be lonely. There is a distinctly Asian feel about the fit-out, with a dash of fast-food/KFC in the mix to make you feel at home. As with all good gourmet fast-food joints, they took it to the next level with the menu. More specifically, they included beer…

They have a few of their own-brand beers on tap, which makes for a refreshing change. I chose the pale ale, which was fairly one-dimensional in flavour, but complemented my fried chicken nicely. Crisp and cold is the order of the day here.

Getting back to the chicken, it was quite delicious. Fried perfectly, with a crispy crust that was soaked in an Asian-style hot chili sauce that was at first very satisfying, but towards the end became a bit cloying and sickly. With the addition of some fresh lime juice, I think the sauce would be divine, and a better balanced accompaniment. Alternatively, larger size pieces of chicken would have seen less surface area for the sauce to dominate. Perhaps it was not their intention for one man to eat a half a chicken coated thickly in this sauce, but the pickled daikon and coleslaw that accompanied it struggled to deal with this sticky condiment.

It’s early days in my fried chicken adventures, and so I have little to compare this against. Having said that, if this is a sign of things to come, I am excited for the future. Asian fried chicken is definitely a winner. Now to find the perfect USA version…

Gami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Burger Business

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I saw a review of this new Footscray burger joint from Burgers of Melbourne, and was motivated to get down there quick smart. It has been 2 weeks since my last burger, and the withdrawals were strong. I was excited all day about this one. Simply couldn’t wait for this burger to pass my lips.

My excitement was short lived however. The menu left me a little disappointed. Given my rule of sticking to a simple cheeseburger on my first visit, I was hoping for some loaded fries, or perhaps onion rings to fill out my order – I was quite hungry! Alas, only chips on offer. There were two burgers on the menu that were close to what I wanted. One was the cheeseburger, but came sans salad. The other was the beef burger, but it was advertised with herb mayo, and other such strange concoctions.

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I generally hate to alter the menu, and genuinely feel bad about asking. But, on this occasion I felt I needed exactly what I was after – a simple cheeseburger with salad. So, after adding lettuce, tomato and red onion to my order, I was left bemused that they were charged at a premium of $1 for each addition. $9.90 became $12.90. WOW! Expensive.

As for the burger, it was uninspiring; and unable to make up for the expensive ordering process. Overcooked patty, lacking in flavour – salt people! The bun was a sweet number; perhaps a milk bun? Too soft and doughy in the end for me. The rest was middle of the road. Not a bad effort, but a lot of room for improvement none the less.

Given they have only been open 3 weeks, I hope that they will continue to improve. If I was to make my way west side again for some burger action, I would be making my way directly to 8bit. Their burger game is strong. Streets ahead of Burger Business.

Burger Business Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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FAT Fried and Tasty

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I just want to put this here with a few words. Yes, this is not burgers. It’s 2016, and it’s time to expand my horizons. Fried chicken seems like a good place to start. There are so many possibilities. New rules to formulate; not to mention a whole new world of eateries to visit. Burgers won’t be going away, but this is a positive step for me.

So, I have been coveting the fried chicken thing for some time now. I’ve been following the trend and waiting for the opportunity to check it out. I compiled my list of places to visit, and FAT Fried and Tasty was always near the top. (It should be noted that the beer selection was terrible and major points off for this aberration).

So much excitement, with no idea what to order. I could very easily have decided to play it safe and get a burger (sandwich to be exact). Instead, I’ve jumped straight in the deep end and gone with “Chicken Waffles,” which is a delightful blend of fried chicken, waffle, vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup.

Based on the reactions from most I have shown it to, this is coming across as some kind of freak show! Now, granted, this probably isn’t the kind of combination that would occur to the majority of Australians. But this is considered normal in the good old US of A.

Every bit as good as pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, the mix of sweet and savoury here is divine. The chicken was crispy, steaming hot, and delicious to eat. Perhaps the only thing missing is some added zing. My next fried chicken outing is sure to involve a little bit of sweating, with most places offering varying levels of heat. Can’t wait!

F.A.T Fried and Tasty Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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