Now that I'm back home, my friends are going overseas one by one. The weather's also clearing up which means I must go out somewhere but it looks like this summer will be a quiet season of relaxing and typing up long reports. My sole comfort will be eating yummy foods and my friends and I met up on Friday night to try the newly transformed Chatswood.
The old library area has been cleared and a magnificent new building erected on its spot with a lawn, fountain and new restaurants! The Concourse, it's called, and they also have a Ben and Jerry's which I've already tried twice in a span of a few days :p
The restaurant we tried out this day was Makanai, a Japanese ramen place, where Hello Happy used to be. The interior is what first caught my eye - a fiery red maple tree stands at the entrance with wooden benches underneath for those waiting for seats.
It's not a big place and the tables are squeezed in next to each other on one side of the room with the open kitchen on the other side. It reminds me of little ramen places in Japan, although they're much smaller, and feels cozy yet chic.
Rows of triangular sushi are placed at the front. These forms of sushi are popular in Asia and they're also fun to open! Grab the two sides and pull and a cute triangular sushi pops out with the plastic still wrapped around the bottom so you don't get your hands dirty. You can buy a couple of these and go relax on the lawn at the Concourse.
The menu is a wooden board with detailed descriptions and photos of some dishes. The menu is divided into 4 main parts - ramen, udon, donburi, and bento. You can also get Japanese home dishes like meatballs. With the ramen, you decide between three soups - Sapporo miso (chicken, bonito, miso), Tokyo shoyu (chicken, pork, bonito, soy) and Hakata Tonkotsu, a pork bone based soup.
First dish, the tan tan ramen in sapporo miso. This ramen is based on a spicy miso soup for those who love spicy foods. It's not that spicy though but just enough. The soup in this one is slightly thicker as it as sesame in it.
Ajitama Ramen in sapporo miso. It's a signature dish from Yokohama with soy flavoured half cooked marinated egg in their stock broth. I liked the soup from this ramen the best out of the three. It was slightly spicy and had the most flavour. The half cooked egg was soft and beautifully marinaded.
Mine, the cha shu ramen in sapporo miso. Succulent slow braised pork in their famous stock broth. The pork was so soft and tender and broke easily with your chopsticks. They were cold but soon became warmish in the soup.
You can really taste that the soups were prepared with care and dedication. Other ramen places stink of pork so that I can't even finish half of it. The serving portions were also plentiful and especially because the soup was so well brewed, you end up getting full on liquid than the noodles.
The restaurant was constantly full and food arrived very quickly upon ordering. I saw other people take out their cameras and intently snap at the food and the very oriental interior. There are only two waitresses so you might need to wave your arms a bit to catch their attention but their service was still quick and attentive when you do manage to grab them. Definitely a must!