Shop Ramen is a small nook along a section of Smith Street that is bustling with thrift shops and restaurants (Po’ Boy is among Ramen’s neighbors)- Alex and I are slowly making our way through it all. We stopped at Shop Ramen for a quick lunch last week, and the place was packed with our neighborhood hipsters. Alex couldn’t decide between pork belly or beef brisket for his bun and ramen, and our waitress was really helpful and willing to take the time to talk him through each item without making us feel pressured (or dumb)- something we both appreciated. He settled on a pork belly bun and the beef brisket ramen, while I went with the vegetarian ramen. While waiting for our food I went over and took a peek at the handmade noodle-making process, where I was again greeted by a friendly staff member who was more than happy to let me take a few pictures! Our ramen arrived first; mine was chock full of broccoli, tofu, pumpkin seeds, pickled shiitake mushrooms and the homemade noodles, while Alex’s had beef, charred leeks, peanuts, kimchi noodles, and a marinated egg. We both absolutely loved the noodles- they were clearly fresh and maintained the perfect amount of bite…I would love to have these in a noodle dish other than ramen sometime. My broth was a cashew milk base, which gave the soup a nice nuttiness that really worked with the seeds; however we both thought that our broths (Alex’s was a miso base) could have been a bit more robust and flavorsome- I found myself searching for soy sauce, which definitely would have been a great addition to the toppings provided at the tables. Alex’s bun came out last, and he couldn’t stop raving about it. The vaguely named ‘bulldog sauce’ that topped the pork belly and cucumber filling was as unique as it was delicious- with hints of clove. The bun proved that Shop Ramen does know how to deliver bold tastes- I would just love if they applied the complexity and flavour of their bulldog sauce to their broths. The prices were reasonable, service friendly, and servings generous, and we will definitely be back for more buns and ramen the next time Melbourne decides on a rainy day (which will undoubtedly be soon)!
condiments and chopsticks at the ready
noodles were handmade in the corner of the restaurant
Vegetarian Ramen- pickled shiitakes, edamame, seeds, broccoli, tofu, noodles, cashew milk
Beef Brisket- charred leeks, noodles, marinated egg, kimchi, peanuts
Pork Belly Bun- bulldog sauce, pickled cucumber