Shop 3, Level 3
9-13 Hay Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 2 9281 6648
Disclaimer: Libby dined as a guest of Hakata-Maru Ramen.
I seem to be going to Sydney quite a bit these days so with that in mind, let me bring out the first of my protracted Sydney posts.
A while ago, Hidetoshi Tsuboi of Chinatown’s Hakata-Maru Ramen invited me to attend a mini-tour of the then-newly established ramen eatery in Market City. He must have somehow mistook me for a Sydneysider so I told him that I live(d) in Melbourne and that as much as I love ramen, I could not accept his invitation.
Regardless, Hide was lovely enough to keep the invitation open for my next Sydney visit – which wasn’t to occur for another eight months or something ridiculous like that. So on my first Sydney visit for 2014, I hopped off the plane at Sydney airport, checked into my accommodation (after accidentally walking into a crack den full of derros on Oxford Street – omg, don’t ask) and walked down to Chinatown to meet Hide.
Hakata-Maru Ramen may have only been in business for a year but they’re already gaining a popular following. Their speciality is Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen, the same type that Ippudo also excels in. In fact, Hide went on to say that Hakata-Maru’s ramens were better value – ‘same thing, slightly different price points.’
After exploring the kitchen and trying my best not to drool at the big vats of stock bubbling away, Hide gave me a few things from the menu to try.
First up, the chicken wings. They similar to the Nagoya-style tebasaki chicken wings which are crispy as hell and glazed with a sweet and slightly sticky garlic glaze. These ones were more dry rather than sticky but I enjoyed them nevertheless.
I was then given their default white tonkotsu ramen as well as a bunch of trimmings on the side. The black stuff you see is the soy garlic sauce which, for an extra dollar, turns your white tonkotsu ramen into a black tonkontsu. Meanwhile, the fiery red stuff you see turns it into a potently spicy red tonkotsu.
Hide offered me little bowls to spoon my ramen noodles and broth in so I can mix the toppings and flavours accordingly. I have to say that the pure white tonkotsu broth was my favourite – it was a milky, clean broth full of flavoursome goodness without the nasty oiliness that you get at Sydney’s rival ramen restaurants. And even though I love garlic, I found the black garlic broth a bit too pungent and the red one was nice but only in small doses.
Is it as good as Ippudo’s ramen? It’s definitely up there but Ippudo’s broth is perhaps a little more refined. That said, I’d happily go to Hakata-Maru Ramen if I’m too lazy to walk up to Pitt Street Mall or if I want to go somewhere more chilled and casual.