Shop 50, 342 McCullough Street
Macgregor QLD 4109
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Do you think you eat your way through a massive bowl of ramen, the equivalent of five standard bowls, in less than 25 minutes? I’m a slow eater and not really one for ridiculous amounts of gluttony (I’m aware that this is a food blog and all) so I quickly said ‘no’ to this challenge. My friend Peter, on the other hand, slapped $35 down the counter and was pretty much like, ‘Bring it on!’
We were at Ramen Champion, one of Brisbane’s many ramen restaurants. Being from Melbourne, the two of us never really got much of a chance to try amazing ramen down south. Our luck changed, however, when we moved up north. There was sunshine! There were geckos roaming around our houses at night! And most important of all, there was good ramen to be had!
A popular Japanese franchise that does extremely well in Singapore, Ramen Champion has been in Brisbane for several years now. It’s located in Sunnypark Plaza which is in Sunnybank (though Google says it’s in Macgregor but whatever, same thing). Sunnybank tends to get hectic on weekends and the weekend that had gone by was no exception – we made it to Ramen Champion at around 11:45 and by the time we left, the place was buzzing with young families and uni students wanting to get their ramen on.
Basically Ramen Champion’s ramen challenge involves this: you pay for their giant ramen (which is apparently the size of five normal servings) and you try to finish it, broth and all, in less than 25 minutes. If you can do it, you get your $35 back as well as a $50 voucher for your next visit. You also get your photo on the wall of fame; there are about 10 proud men on that wall, one of which happened to be an old Tinder date of mine. Ramen Champion limits their giant ramen to three servings a day though so your best bet is to get in early for a chance to get your beaming mug on that wall.
I ordered a serving of gyoza to start, with Pete helping himself to one piece to warm up. Because he had avoided eating breakfast that morning, his stomach was growling like mad. The gyozas were nice enough but I wouldn’t say they were best I’ve ever had – too much cabbage and not enough pork for my liking.
I had the champion ramen, the most ‘basic’ of the six options on offer. The broth was a classic tonkotsu-style pork bone soup and on top of the generous amount of lovely handmade noodles, there were two pieces of flame grilled chashu, nori, half an egg, spring onions and bean shoots. The menu photo also had menma (fermented bamboo shoots) so I was expecting some, only to find that there were none. To be fair, menma was not mentioned in the menu description; instead the vague descriptor ‘vegetables’ were used but I’m not sure if that was the right term to describe a pinch of spring onions and bean shoots. Regardless, I enjoyed my ramen; the broth may not have had as much depth as some of my favourite ramen places but it was rich without being too fatty. The noodles, however, was the thing that did it for me – they were flawlessly silky and chewy as handmade ramen noodles should be.
You can’t tell from this picture, but Peter’s ramen really was heaps bigger than mine – to me, it looked like a massive birdbath filled with a lake of endless noodles swimming in a rich tonkotsu broth. The waitress set the timer at 25 and off he went, determined to polish the bowl of soup noodles off like he did with Superbowl’s pho challenge years ago.
Unfortunately at the 16 minute mark, he admitted defeat. He may have been able to finish a huge bowl of pho without any problems, but he forgot that ramen was heaps more fattier than pho. Challenge aside, the giant ramen really is great value for money considering that the standard champion ramen bowl is ($9.90). It comes with a seemingly endless supply of fresh, homemade noodles, ten slices of chashu (as opposed to the standard two) and four egg halves (as opposed to one egg half). As soon as I had finished my ramen, I eagerly helped myself to some noodles and chashu. In the end, I had almost two bowls before I, too, admitted defeat.