Blancharu Ramen, Elizabeth Bay (Closed)

By night, this place is a modern one hat Japanese fine diner.

By weekday lunchtime it hosts a ramen house, run by chef Harunobu Inukai (Haru). About half the restaurant, including the bar area is available for seating. To add to the informal atmosphere, you need to return your dishes to the kitchen at the end of your meal.

When we visit the place is full with Japanese who have heard the goss. In fact the only Caucasians we spot are Terry Durack and Joanne Saville!

There is a A3 sized menu of ramen which offers stock based on either a natural salt or a specially selected soy sauce base. The flavourings include as-is, three kinds of oil/fragrances, black (sesame) oil and chilli oil. The accompaniments include wood ear fungus, nori seaweed sheets, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and soya egg. You can even order extra slow cooked pork or noodles.

We order No. 3 Ramen ($12.50), and No. 15 Ramen ($14). As sides, we get 3 pieces of Kara-age chicken ($3) , and a hometown snack of chef Haru: pork, leek and miso Okayi ($5). I can’t resist a can of Pokka crisp apple cider ($2)

The okayi:

Pork, leek and miso Okayi

It is interesting, and probably very much a comfort food if you have grown up eating it. The outside is thick and gummy in texture – like a moochi or a big rice ball. The inside is layered with the pastry and tastes very strongly of leek. The pork is finely shredded – I like the texutre. The outside is a little bit oily, probably to prevent it from sticking to the plastic cling wrap.

The sparkling apple cider is a medium brown colour with caramel undertones. It is nice and refreshing:

Pokka Sparkling Apple Juice

Ramen No. 3 is a natural salt base in Paitan soup with slow cooked pork, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, shallots, wood ear fungus, nori and egg:

No. 3 Ramen

As the stock is chicken based it is quite light in flavour and texture. Unfortunately, during my first bowl I detect a slight ‘off” taste, similar to meat that is about to spoil. The bamboo shoots are slightly darker than the vacuum packed ‘fresh’ shelf stable product I’ve seen for sale in the shops. I wonder if it has been pickled or soaked in soy sauce. It has almost a bitter flavour. As you eat through the bowl, you’ll notice that the soup becomes less, and the noodles become thicker as they absorb the broth. The pork is sweet and rich with a soy sauce flavour and not too dry. It looks like a pork belly cut, but is not too fatty.

No. 15 is cold dipping ramen noodles with a thick soy flavoured and slow cooked pork, bamboo shoots, nori, egg and bean sprout:

No. 15 Ramen

You get an urn shaped ramekin of miso- salty dipping sauce with black oil floating on top. It is hard to detect the sesame flavour: I think it is more the granular texture and coating that is the purpose of this dish. The pieces of bamboo shoot are huge, after a while they get a bit too much.

The Karrage chicken:

Light and crispy, it tastes of all things saturated fat and terribly bad for you. It tastes like ‘popcorn chicken’.

I defiantly have to go back and try some of the other ramen flavours available.

Blancharu Ramen Pop Up
street: Shop 1, Elizabeth Bay Rd Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
web: Blancharu
Monday-Thursday
Lunchtime only, 1200-1400

Post-post note: As of 2013, Chef Haru has sold Blancharu and is shifting to Sussex Street food court with his ramen. The new store is called Ramen Ikkyu

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