ramen restaurant

Is There A Best Ramen Restaurant In Melbourne?

A good bowl of ramen is a marriage of four things: broth, tare (seasoning), noodles and toppings.

In Melbourne, we’re best acquainted with the luscious tonkatsu (pork bone) broth and the lighter chicken version, generally boiled for half a day or more with kelp and bonito flakes to impart a deep umami character.

Classic seasonings such as shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) and spicy miso (fermented soybeans) add another layer of complexity to the soup. Tare recipes are often a ramen chef’s most precious secret.

As with pasta in Italy, there are potentially hundreds of types of noodles. One constant? They should be served firm and slightly under-done, as they'll continue cooking in the bowl. In Japan, no one waits for their friend’s ramen to arrive. 

It’s most polite to dig in the second your bowl hits the table – with plenty of appreciative slurping – to prevent the noodles from turning to mush.

Toppings might be barbequed pork, a soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts, black fungus, nori (seaweed), naruto fishcakes, spring onions, corn or even butter.

Now you know what to order, here’s where to find Melbourne’s best ramen.

The Best Ramen In Melbourne

The basis of any self-respecting bowl of ramen is the happy union of broth, noodles and toppings. But essential to a good swallow is the tare; not unlike the mirepoix in a soup, this is the shio (salt), shoyu (soy) or miso base that gives ramen its distinct flavour profile. 

With this in mind, we tested Melbourne’s ramen shops to find the best of the bunch. Still hungry? Try one of Melbourne's best Japanese restaurants instead.

Shujinko

Shujinko is commonly known as “the one that’s open 24/7”. That’s because it is. You can rock up at any hour of the day to any of this brand’s five locations and expect a nice, consistent bowl of authentic ramen. 

Although that’s all, it is usually – just a nice, satisfying bowl. It won’t blow your mind, but it won’t leave you bitterly disappointed like some other ramen restaurants in Melbourne are known to do. 

The original Russell Street venue remains the most popular for late-night ramen fiends leaving the CBD bars behind and looking for something a bit more soul-stirring than a chaotic doner kebab.

  • What to order: Go straight for the heat here, and don’t let those two chilli icons tell you otherwise. The karakuchi ramen is one of the best options here, with signature shujinko ramen served with spicy seasoning, bok choy, spring onion, bean sprout, marinated egg, and some beautifully grilled pork belly.
  • Russell Street Address: 225 Russell Street, Melbourne (click link for other venues)

Shop Ramen

If you’ve already read my list of the best Ramen in Sydney, then you may realise that there aren’t as many in Melbourne that passes the test. There are nine on that list (currently, anyway) and only seven here, for now. 

Does that mean that Melbourne’s ramen scene isn’t as strong? Not necessarily, especially with this Fitzroy-born powerhouse and a perennial favourite, Shop Ramen. The Smith Street original is still the best, but the brand has also expanded to a venue in Preston. 

Both are solid options, especially when you back up bowls of shoyu pork belly ramen with fresh yuzu oil with beef brisket and kimchi buns and, if you want to go all out, whatever ice cream pie of the week the kitchen has backed up.

  • What to order: Go straight for that big bowl of delicious shoyu ramen with pork belly and pay a bit more to add some fresh yuzu oil. Shop Ramen makes it clear that superior ingredients will always make the difference here, so expect to find the best version of everything in that bowl, from the thin slices of pork belly and marinated egg to the fresh bamboo shoots and Chinese broccoli.
  • Fitzroy address: 329 Smith Street, Fitzroy 

ramen restaurant (3)

Neko Neko

With a preference towards vegan ramen, Neko Neko has swiftly risen to become one of the best spots in Melbourne and easily one of the most popular. And while the menu ropes in more than just ramen, with swordfish burgers and superfood salads equally popular, it’s that bowl of the good stuff you want.

  • What to order: There are typically only three options here to save you a bit of that choice anxiety. Go with the Tan Tan Ramen, which comes with a miso broth that’s been delicately built with soy milk, ground sesame and chilli garlic oil. Pay a bit extra to add a crispy tofu pocket, which goes in well with the springy house-made noodles, soy mince, and bok choy.
  • Address: 83A Smith Street, Fitzroy

Yoku Ono Ramen + Sake

Between those delicious swordfish bao buns, tofu meatballs, and grilled eggplant drizzled with red miso sauce, you’re going to want to lock in a few visits to Yoku Ono

This junction between fine and casual dining offers no less than seven different types of ramen on their menu, each $22-$25 with a sharp focus on top quality, with everything from the classic soul-warming ramen most know and love to chilled ramen and vegan-friendly ramen.

  • What to order: If you want to try something you won’t typically find in Australia, go for one of the chilled ramens. Fresh fresh tuna sashimi ramen is my pick here, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Instead, I’d recommend the signature yoku ono ramen with your choice of chicken thigh or pork belly (go for the melt-in-your-mouth latter). The chicken broth of this signature is cooked over 8 hours, giving it an exceptionally creamy texture that is easier flavoured by the top quality ingredients.
  • Address: 6A Anchor Place, Prahran

Little Ramen Bar

This small hole-in-the-wall on Little Bourke Street perfectly translates the no-fuss approach to ramen you’d find scattered all over almost every corner of Japan’s biggest cities. 

They are not traditionalists here, from the spicy miso ramen with a slow-cooked pork broth to the great seafood ramen. It’s the special miso ramen you’d want here, though – one of the most popular orders for a very good reason.

  • What to order: As above, order the special miso ramen if it’s your first time. Not only does this broth use the kitchen’s signature homemade red miso paste, but it uses white miso and pork broth as well to introduce a more complex, blended flavour. Throw in a little chilli, three pieces of BBQ pork, corn, butter and an egg – perfection.
  • Address: 5/346 Little Bourke St, Melbourne

Hakata Gensuke

It may be a chain, but Hakata Gensuke is one of the scene’s biggest players when it comes to the best ramen in Melbourne. All these years after opening their first Melbourne store, pretty much every Hakata venue is still flanked by queues, with ramen lovers lining up well before opening time. 

There’s a lot to choose from here, so luckily, there are four stores dotted around the city. The most unique is the QV venue, which focuses on chicken ramen.

The Melbourne CBDHawthorn, and Carlton Hakata Gensuke outposts seem to have been uprooted from Japan and plopped down in Melbourne, complete with a tick-sheet ordering system and customisable noodles. Some of the more traditional ramen Melbourne serves up, here you can choose not only your ramen's toppings and level of spiciness, but also how al dente you'd like your noodles. 

It's worth coming back and experimenting until you find your perfect mixture, but if you're not sure where to start, go with something like the black tonkatsu ramen, which includes black sesame and garlic for an extra layer of intense, smoky flavour.

  • What to order: This one depends on which venue you’re at. For the most part, you’re in very good hands if you go for the signature tonkatsu or – for spice fiends – the God Fire ramen. If you’re at the QV, opt for the signature tori ramen, a creamy chicken and dashi broth served with thin house-made noodles, chicken cha-shu, bamboo shoots, and spring onions. You may want to be vigilant about checking their menu, though – sometimes the kitchen likes to mash up some of their best ramens to create something new, like the black fire ramen, which is a hybrid of their black tori and god fire bowls.
  • CBD Address: 168 Russell St, Melbourne (click link for other venues)

Mensousai Mugen

Just as valuable for Japanese tapas-style plates as it is for big, generous bowls of ramen, Mensousai Mugen is a stalwart for the city’s most passionate slurpers. 

And they are one of the only ramen restaurants in Melbourne that pays just as much attention to tsukemen (dry noodles served with dipping broth), with three options including the incredible Goma tsukemen that’s served with sesame seed sauce broth and slow-cooked pork. 

If you don’t want to stray from ramen, there are four choices – two traditional bowls of ramen and two dry ramen bowls.

  • What to order: The wafu ramen is the most consistent here, and it’s absolutely what your first order should be if you’ve never been to Mensousai Mugen before. The soy sauce and dashi broth are complex and flavourful after being cooked for 48 hours, even more so with house-made thin noodles, bean shoots, seaweed, and egg.
  • Address: 11 Bligh Pl, Melbourne

Shyun Ramen Bar 

CARNEGIE

Some of the best ramen Melbourne has to offer can often be found outside of the CBD. From the cheerful Japanese greeting called out by every staff member when you walk in the door to the open kitchen facing ramen lovers in the long, narrow dining area, Shyun Ramen Bar is a slice of Japan transported to suburbia. 

A simple industrial fit-out (wood-panelled and exposed brick walls, oversized light bulbs) focuses on piping hot bowls of some of Melbourne’s best ramen, soba and udon. The Karaage ramen is a marriage of Japas and ramen—bite-sized pieces of deep-fried chicken sit atop a mound of tender noodles in a shoyu or miso-based broth, and a handful of corn kernels and spring onions to add texture to the dish. 

Mr Ramen San

CBD

In the belly of Mid-City Arcade, you’ll find Mr Ramen San tucked away on the Little Bourke St end, usually with a line outside. One of the oldest ramen joints in Melbourne, and certainly some of the best ramen in Melbourne, this eatery is known for its 24-hour tonkatsu broth and homemade noodles.  

Mr Ramen San offers different ramen variations such as spicy chicken ramen, seafood ramen, family-style hotpot with pork broth and most impressively, an entirely vegan ‘Char Siu’ ramen. 

ramen restaurant

Tokyo Tina ​

WINDSOR

As one of the coolest (and busiest) restaurants on Chapel Street, Tokyo Tina’s gotta have Japanese-inspired ramen to back it up. And they do—several. 

There’s regular chicken, *spicy* chicken and mushroom and miso, but the real prize goes to the smoked brisket, bok choy and ramen egg swimming in Tina’s Black Tare sauce (dashi, sugar, mirin and soy). Get in early to get it quick, or be prepared to linger around Chapel a while.

Shizuku

ABBOTSFORD

A relatively new ramen Melbourne is offering is Shizuku. It's all charcoal walls, big blonde wood light shades and terrariums at this modern outfit that specialise in ramen and craft beer. The drinks list runs from the usual Asahi right through to the less common bacon maple ale and delicious rum-infused umeshu (plum wine), and the ramen menu is just as diverse. 

For ramen newbies, the classic shoyu ramen—wheat noodles and pork in a slightly salty soup—is a good place to start. But for ramen diehards, we recommend the tonkatsu shio ramen, with pork belly and noodles that start springy but become more tender and flavoursome the longer you let them swim in the pork bone broth.

Tamura Sake & Jazz Bar

FITZROY

Fumi Tamura is bringing modern, casual Japanese dining to Fitzroy with Tamura Sake & Jazz Bar. The dishes are paired with classic highballs, shochu and sake, while the fresh salmon sashimi and Japanese fried chicken (JFC) that adds to some of the most authentic and best ramens in Melbourne, all served up in a charming, authentic atmosphere.

Ippudo

CBD

The Japanese-founded franchise, Ippudo, has established what they call “Global Standard” ramen. The brand was founded in 1985 in Hakata, Japan, by Shigemi Kawahara and now has over 200 locations worldwide. With awards piling high, the ramen served here is definitely worth the calories.

The signature Akamaru Shinaji Ramen with Tonkatsu broth is a must-try if you are a first-timer here. The pork broth is textured, creamy and seriously heart-warming and comes with pork loin, bean sprouts, black fungus and thin noodles cooked to a density of your choice, plus a perfectly cooked, flavoured egg if you want it.

Gogyo

FITZROY

As far as the ramen Melbourne has to offer, Gogyo is worth a look in. Their signature charred miso ramen dish is like nothing else found here, and their spicier dishes pack some heat (try the karaka-men bowl for a real punch in the tastebuds). Gogyo is owned by IPPUDO, a large chain that has been doing ramen in Japan for years, so you know you're in good hands when you order a bowl of the good stuff.

Yoko Ono

PRAHRAN 

Along with the rest of this list, Yoku Ono is easily a contender for the best ramen in Melbourne. The menu is fresh, inventive and plays to the seasons; there are, however, several staple ramen dishes that you can't go past, like their take on the miso chicken ramen and signature Yoku Ono ramen—it’s the ramen Melbourne goes to if you’re on the south of the city.

Ajisen Ramen

Mr Takahuaru Shigemitsu founded Ajisen Ramen in 1968 in Kumamoto. In 1996 Ajisen Ramen expanded internationally, and today it has 750 branches all around the world. If this isn’t enough to persuade you of their delicious ramen, perhaps the fact that their famous tonkatsu (pork bone) soup is known to promote heart and bone health as well as prevent ageing. 

Not to mention its delicious properties, which, when combined with freshly cooked noodles and a secret rich brown sauce called senmiyu, leads to the most gastronomically satisfying ramen in Melbourne you can find.

Address: Shop GD 13, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Ramen Ya

Home of chashu tonkatsu ramen, Ramen Ya uses the best pork belly and stews it for hours in their secret master broth to create the ultimate taste sensation. If that doesn’t get your stomach gurgling, perhaps their veg gyoza ramen or kimchi ramen will. 

They also have karaage ramen, curry ramen, tofu ramen and a whole lot more, resulting in one of the more diverse menus of Japanese ramen in Melbourne.

Address: Lower Ground, Emporium Melbourne, 267-321 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

As the only two Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen restaurants in Australia, this premium Japanese ramen in Melbourne is called your tastebuds. They specialise in chikuho noodles and tonkatsu soup, creating indulgent, mouth-watering ramen you won’t experience anywhere else. 

With over 40 years of experience in making some of the best traditional ramens in Japan, spreading the Japanese ramen culture to Melbourne allows you a glimpse of this incredible flavour that has been refined and perfected over the decades.

Address: Basement of 27 Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants

Mr Ramen San, Neko Neko, and Ajisen Ramen are all great tasting ramen restaurants in Melbourne.

Shop Ramen Fitzroy, Ramen Ya, and Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen make some of the best ramen restaurants in Melbourne.

Ramen is, without a doubt, the superior soup. It packs a punch of flavour in the broth that pho struggles to deliver sans the plate of sides (mint, lemon and chilli, we're looking at you). Ramen isn't a different dish—it's wholly complete when it lands in front of you.

Eating such high-calorie fare daily can increase your risk of various health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, so if you can't go a day without ramen, Ichihara recommends making most of them days for non-tonkatsu types.

Instant noodles are dehydrated noodles that are packed with preservatives and come with dehydrated vegetables in a cup along with a packet of seasoning. Ramen is made of hand-pulled wheat noodles and is a traditional Japanese noodle soup.

Conclusion

One of the only foods that transcend the boundaries between affordable, cosy dining and rich, exotic flavours is that of Japanese ramen in Melbourne. Ramen is a famed Japanese dish made with thick, handmade noodles in a flavourful broth topped with your favourite meat, vegetables and Japanese treats. Japanese ramen in Melbourne is simple yet full of enthusiasm, an ideal meal for any outing all year round.

Ramen is not only an incredibly popular dish on account of its tantalising flavours. It is a hit with any date or group dinner as you can customise your dish to suit your palate or specific cravings. At these top ramen restaurants in Melbourne, you can choose your spiciness, broth flavour (from 10-day pork bone broth to soybean and chilli broth) and the additives to give it that extra zing. Some of the best ramen in Melbourne have their special flavours and traditions directly from Japan.

If you’re new to ramen, this list of the 12 best ramen restaurants in Melbourne (in no particular order) is an ideal introduction to the iconic dish. If you’re a seasoned ramen connoisseur, these are the creme de la creme of ramen Melbourne has to offer.

Resources:

Best Ramen in Melbourne

12 Best Ramen Restaurants in Melbourne

Where To Find The Best Ramen In Melbourne

The Best Ramen In Melbourne For 2021

The best ramen in Melbourne

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