11 Bligh Place
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 9620 3647
Melbourne may be renowned for having the most sports fanatics per square kilometre and excellent coffee but when it comes to dishing out half-decent ramen, it sucks. I get that it’s unfair to compare Melbourne to Sapporo or Hakata. However, when our northern neighbours such as Sydney and Brisbane (and even Gold Coast) do ramen better than us, you know something is not right.
Thankfully, we’re getting better. We’ve seen places like Don Too whip up lovely (and cheap) ramen and trendsetters such as Shop Ramen put their own spin on what is arguably Japan’s national dish (cashew milk broth ramen, anyone?). And for those who love tsukemen ramen, we now have Mensousai Mugen to keep us happy.
So what is tsukemen ramen? I heard one person called it a ‘deconstructed ramen’ where you have a bowl of noodles in one bowl and your broth in another. You’re essentially dipping your noodles into the broth and once you’re done with the noodles, hot dashi stock is added to the remaining broth so you can slurp it all up like a cup of soup.
Mensousai Mugen is brought to you by Yoshi Kurosawa, the guy behind Robot Bar which is located in the same laneway as Mugen. Mugen doesn’t open until 6pm so the best way to go about doing thing is to knock back a few shots of sake at Robot before stumbling across to Mugen, which is what Pete and I did one evening after work.
Like Robot, the atmosphere here is cool, dark and edgy. Of course, this means that it made photography very difficult but having random clips of naked Japanese guys mucking around in rivers on the projector made up for it.
We shared some Nagoya-style chicken wings. They were crispy and salty, with the slightest hint of sweetness – and very addictive. I’m definitely looking forward to eating my body weight in this during my one-day stopover in Nagoya later this year.
I ordered the default tsukemen ramen option, the wafu tsukemen while Pete went for the curry version. The only difference between mine and Pete’s was that his broth was infused with curry, but everything else remained the same from the dashi and soy sauce broth base to the house-made noodles to the chashu (slow-cooked pork).
Eating ramen in a deconstructed manner was initially strange. Sure, I eat a lot of zaru soba where a lot of dipping is involved but I think it’s different with hot dishes. After a while, I did get used to it and I do like the whole novelty of it.
For an extra $2, you can also get a soy egg with it – it was deliciously creamy and probably one of the better ones I’ve had in Melbourne.
Although there was nothing wrong with our ramen (the soup was fantastic and the noodles beautifully cooked), both Pete and I still preferred the traditional noodle-in-soup ramen. That said, the tsukemen option is good if you want to try something different. It’s also perfect for hot days where you crave ramen, but an entire bowl of it (soup and all) may be too much. I’m not sure if tsukemen will take off in Melbourne but either way, I’m glad that there’s another ramen restaurant in town.