Sydney’s food scene changes so rapidly, all these restaurants closing, all these restaurants opening. A recent report by Good Food has stated that overall, the number of restaurant closures has, for the first time, exceeded the number of openings.
But never fear, as it’s all about increasing quality. Sure, we’ve lost some greats like Bills, Quarter 21 etc, but we’re gaining lots of underdog stars as well. So uh, where exactly am I going with this…
A few months ago, Azuma Patisserie, Kushiyaki and Ton Ton Ramen, all at Regent Place, closed down or have relocated. Taking Azuma Patisserie’s place is now Chanoma Café [review pending], Kushiyaki’s now replaced by Yebisu Izakaya [want to try | review pending], and Ton Ton Ramen has been replaced by…Tenkomori Ramen House.
So 3 Japanese out, 3…Japanese in?
Date Visited: Latest visit 17/4/13
Address: Shop 16 Regent Pl George St Sydney, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: Black garlic tonkotsu ramen
It’s weird it is. Tenkomori Ramen House (henceforth TRH) is in the same family as Menya [review pending], Oiden [review pending] and the like. The concept is the same – you order a main meal (usually ramen, but curry bowls and other noodle types are available), and then you can top up with sides like takoyaki, karaage chicken, and so forth.
I’ve been to TRH four time now, though I’ve only taken pics of it twice. Let’s see how this place stacks up.
For the record, ramen prices vary from $5.9 to $9 depending on broth type and size, and sides range from $1.1-$3 (from what I recall, don’t take this as gospel).
Miso ramen’s flavour is quite predictable – miso soup it is, often with some kind of shoyu addition, or the like.
- The miso broth was nice, and I especially admired at how little oil was used in producing the broth. Stark contrast to Ryo’s, a good sign.
- The taste was about average – not class-leading stuff, but not bad either. Umami miso takes the stage, as expected.
- TRH’s noodles are not handmade, nor are they expected to be handmade for a fast-food joint. They tasted alright for their origins, I can’t really ask for much more.
There’s not much to say on the miso ramen. OH EXCEPT, The Lady found a super long hair in her soup. Fantastic stuff. The rush from a fast food joint sure leaves some gaps in quality and uhh…perhaps OHS.
The black garlic tonkotsu ramen is probably my favourite here. For those who haven’t had black garlic before, it’s like regular garlic, but sweeter, and with hints of balsamic vinaigrette.
A little weird that I didn’t see much black garlic, but that was near the bottom (huh?). Ah well, it was there and that’s what counts.
- Despite this ramen being my favourite, I’m really not a fan of TRH’s tonkotsu broth. It is good in that it’s also not particularly oily, but it tastes a little…milky. I’m almost tempted to placebo it to a poor imitation of laksa soup (without the chilli). It’s also just a little bit bland – I find that it improves a lot if I add LOTS of chilli powder to it.
- Okay broth wasn’t too good, but here’s where the black garlic steps in to improve it. I love black garlic for its taste, and for the most part, saved the tonkotsu.
So I’ve ripped on the tonkotsu, but seriously, for those of you who haven’t had Menya’s tonkotsu, or for those thick-broth loving people of you – Gumshara’s broth, try those first. Then you’ll see how much of a gap Tenkomori has to fill just to even come close.
So now for some sides. My overall comment for most of the sides is that they never seem to be as hot as they could be when I get them. Not sure how good their heating is, but you’d have to essentially score freshly cooked sides to ensure optimal temperature.
Overall though, happy with the quality of the sides
- Karaage chicken was super crispy, perhaps even too much batter to meat ratio, definitely sauce it up as there’s little flavour by itself
- The same applies to the fried tofu
- Takoyaki could use a bit more flavour by adding more takoyaki shoyu – I felt there wasn’t enough. Also, congealing from choosing samples that aren’t fresh is an issue. Take note
- I liked the pork loin katsu – crispy, good section of pork, great with sauce. Mmm.
- Finally, for the spring roll – a bit of a non-event, unless you really dig the deep fried stuff
In general, the common sense comments apply – if you get it fresh, the sides are great. If not, bad luck!
Oh, btw, I found a long hair on one of my sides plates on my 17/4 visit. That’s two times now. Not particularly impressed.
Lastly, I’ve got one more bowl of ramen to talk about. It’s really a combination of other ramen elements (gotta love the modularity!)
Protein came in the form of that teriyaki chicken, which was pretty good, apart from some rather dry chicken (which never really goes away even when immersed in the broth).
Other than that that, the usual comments from the other ramen dishes apply.
I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but I prefer the old Ton Ton Ramen – sure, there were no side dishes, but there was a greater variety of ramen, and it was just overall better, with bigger portion sizes for similar dollar. Tenkomori is a decent, but ultimately average addition to the Regent Place dining scene.
But boy, you really can’t beat convenience.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: decent, non-fleecing pricing, food comes quickly, ramen isn’t oily
What could be improved: overall flavours were blandish and could use improvement, tonkotsu was not really like tonkotsu. It’s a fast food chain, but finding hair on two of my four visits to the place is not pleasant.
I give a grand total of six Caesars out of ten – 6/10