The thick, rich, sticky broth that is tonkotsu is the soup of choice for many a ramen lover in Sydney. It used to be that it was hard to come by, only served in limited quantities. However, in recent times, not only is there an abundance of venues that serve tonkotsu ramen, a number of them do a good job of it too. The drawback however is that most of these places are situated within Sydney’s CBD.
Enter Manpuku, the latest addition to Sydney’s tonkotsu ramen regime situated in Kingsford, one of the major food hubs in the Eastern Suburbs. An outside contender that, in my mind, serves a very respectable tonkotsu ramen, rivaling many of their big city brethren.
Manpuku is abuzz with energy as you enter their modest sized restaurant (though regular by local standards). A youthful vigour, from the welcoming herald of irashaimasen by the greeters at the door that reverberates like a wave throughout the restaurant, to the ritual the chefs perform in the kitchen, chanting a rhythmic onomatopoeia of sho-SHO in time with excess water being shaken loose from freshly cooked ramen, ready to be plated and served.
Unlike a lot of Japanese restaurants that are Korean-staffed establishments in disguise, this place has a distinctly Japanese feel to it, from the aesthetics of the calligraphy artwork that adorns the walls, the menu board over the service counter that’s numbered from right-to-left, to the native Japanese staff including a handsome Eurasian youth with the looks of a J-Drama actor, manning the service counter (no doubt popular with the local Asian student populous).
The menu is very limited, consisting of variations on tonkotsu and chicken broth ramen with a few rice dishes and a salad. While a specialised menu is generally a good sign, unfortunately there are very few dishes that cater for vegetarians and vegans. With little more than a token salad (assuming that it isn’t dressed with bonito fish flakes or the like), the V&Vs may want to give this restaurant a pass.
Manpuku Black Ramen ($13.90) – The Manpuku Black ramen is served with a single slice of pork, half an egg, slivers of wood ear mushrooms, bean sprouts, shallots, nori and a rich garlic-flavoured tonkotsu broth. The ramen is rather thin but it holds up well in the broth, not overcooking too quickly.
For those of you that consider Gumshara the gold standard for tonkotsu ramen in Sydney and salivate in a Pavlovian response at the mere mention of the restaurant might find the tonkotsu ramen at Manpuku to be a tad lacking. It’s not quite as rich or intensely flavourful, the pork and the egg isn’t quite as tender and it’s a tad more expensive. It’s still however very good tonkotsu ramen, up there with some of Sydney’s best and in my mind better value than the rather pricey ramen at Ippudo. In fact, for those of you that find Gumshara’s tonkotsu to be too rich and too intensely flavourful, you may find yourself preferring Manpuku’s version of the dish more.
For those that do not live in the Eastern Suburbs, you may find that it may not be worth the hassle to travel to Manpuku, particularly if you have to pass through the city and Gumshara on the way there. Though, there are plenty of public transport options to get you there if you do. If you find yourself in the area or if you’re a local, Manpuku is a great place to get your tonkotsu ramen fix and it’s a welcome addition to the rather lacklustre options for ramen in the area.
Your shoujo prince awaits to take your order.
482 Anzac Parade, Kingsford
(02) 9662 1236