Gogyo Ramen | Surry Hills, Sydney

You know they mean business when they whip out the laser thermometers.

It’s not just high-tech, it’s necessary to produce the edible noir art that is a bowl of kogashi ramen at Gogyo Sydney.

How hot? Three hundred degrees Celsius. It’s difficult to imagine what this kind of heat feels like, as home stove tops aren’t even capable of hitting this level of heat. But take a seat at the counter, and perhaps you’ll get a feel of the flames. You smell it, you see it, it’s an experience of multiple senses. And just like the story of Icarus, you inch closer with inscrutable yet arguably irrational curiosity: you could get burnt, literally.

But maybe, just maybe, that’s a worthwhile punishment for the ramen.

This post is based on two visits to Gogyo, one under media invite, and the other independently-paid for the day after. As the restaurant is in its soft launch phase, menu items may change without notice. The same naturally goes for dishes featured in this post.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Date Last Visited: 19/Jan/2018
Address: 52-54 Albion Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Highlight Dishes: kogashi shoyu ramen, kogashi miso ramen, chilli shoyu ramen, crackling piggy roll, wagyu flank fillet

Price Guide (approx): $17 for ramen, $10 for most other a la carte

Any foodie worth their Japanese shio will have heard of Nishiki Market. It is about as quintessential as the Japanese bazaar experience gets. If done properly, you’d need four stomachs and perhaps an assistant or two to carry your haul of foodstuffs unique to Kyoto.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Communal, private or counter: Gogyo has it all.

But for ramen pilgrims, a lane way, an offshoot from the market’s snaking path is the true destination. I wasn’t alone: the line was plenty long at Gogyo’s Kyoto store. Fond memories and indelibly stained shirts impressed into memory, as was a yearning for the franchise to make its way to Australia.

Until now. IT’S FINALLY DOWN UNDER. And in Sydney, no less! There is a slight twinge of sadness, as Gogyo drove the final stake through the heart of Salaryman, but that restaurant’s concept was never able to take off. At least Paul Kelly, both Gogyo and its previous tenant’s designer, retained much of its bones. The space is expansive, welcoming, and surprisingly high-end for a ramen shop. The details are there for those who pay attention – the superimposed veneers of mod-art grey curtains, the sound-absorbing naked brick, the fine glassware. Refreshingly, Gogyo is actually a big restaurant: so big, it boasts a full bar section in addition to its 80-seat capacity.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Yuzu citrus jelly cocktail – one of the many drinks on the bar menu.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Then there’s the menu itself: the kogashi ramen of course (and I swear, I’ll get to that before long), but also no less than fifteen other items on the a la carte menu. You come for ramen, but be surprised when the temptations of Gogyo’s other dishes cast their own delectable spells.

I was definitely one of the afflicted.

This is in some ways an antithesis to the hyper-specialist, small-scale & homey ramen-ya in Japan. Then again, Gogyo is Gogyo, and it is a franchise. While the feel of the place is distinctly out of character when compared to ramen-ya in Japan – it is indeed something I miss about that country’s restaurants – it is actually nice to have some space (or rather, give others space) when I’m going animalistic on a bowl of ramen.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Gogyo – Ramen

To an actual explanation of that kogashi (burnt) ramen. It all starts in the base: three hundred degrees, tare (a sauce base that greatly influences the final flavour), and stock. This is where Gogyo shines – literally. An initial dollop of oil is heated in a wok up to 300C, and then the tare – either an earthy blend of red & white miso or shoyu – is scooped in and set on fire. The addition of the main soup stock quickly douses it out before the whole place burns down. In the case of both kogashi variants, a paitan chicken stock takes centre stage. While OH&S laws in Australia prevent Gogyo Sydney from recreating the fiery fury in its Japan counterparts, the furnishing of that few precious seconds of char is critical. This soup ‘smoking’ produces its signature taste, a standard that Gogyo Sydney manages to faithfully uphold.

So, an obvious question: which one? Whichever your poison, you’ll receive a bib to protect your precious fast fashion from unintentionally getting a taste of the soup. Unless you’re by your lonesome, ‘divide and conquer’ with your ramen slayer-in-crime is an ideal strategy. However, if you insist on one bowl to rule them all (and in the soup bind them) the kogashi shoyu is where the cash should be splashed. It’s a gorgeous pool of darkness that’s full of depth, with flavours of garlic, sesame, and an almost molasses-like bitterness, encapsulated in a velvety, intensely smoky broth. If umami could be written as a perfect equation, the above would be its terms. Bonus: you can actually polish off the kogashi shoyu and still walk out of Gogyo without an unwanted pregnancy. One black (heh) mark on its profile? It’s slightly too salty, and seriously – only appraisers of some serious smoke need apply.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Kogashi shoyu: charred shoyu, chicken broth, 1/2 egg, pork belly chashu – $18

The kogashi miso, with its unctuous, earthy miso tare is not for the faint of heart. While no Gumshara, Gogyo’s is a special kind of medicine: the kind that banishes hangovers, broken hearts and any hopes for a six pack. Oh yes it’s good, but eating this every day is asking for your stomach to find a new, more benevolent host. In terms of a direct comparison with its dark twin, the kogashi miso’s flavour profile trades out the shoyu’s intense flavour & smokiness for the raw earthiness of miso and fat.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Kogashi miso: charred miso, chicken broth, 1/2 egg, pork belly chashu – $18

While we’re at it, we need to talk about the noodles. Gogyo hails from Fukuoka – the ramen capital of the world, no big deal – but the noodles used for its kogashi have undergone customisation, yielding a higher level of alkalinity & hardness, as well as being slightly wider and flatter. All of this is to play ball with the more intense broth, where the noodles don’t break apart as easily, and ensures a high degree of soup adhesion – all jobs at which it performed admirably. For me, the textbook test is hardness and resistance, qualities which Gogyo’s strands possess without a shred of doubt.

I also had little complaint about the chashu. It’s tender, fatty and full of porcine flavour. The ratio between pork fat and lean pork was spot on. If anything, it’s sliced just a bit too thin for my preference – perhaps almost shaved; I couldn’t get enough of it with each bite – literally.

Oh, right. There are other ramen items on the menu. Let’s explore them.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Tonkotsu ramen: pork broth, 1/2 egg, bamboo shoots, pork belly chashu – $17

Followers of the light can still order traditional tonkotsu ramen. Gogyo’s follows a decades-old recipe: a highly-involved, labour-intensive method where pork bones are simmered over for hours on end. It retains a hearty dose of pork back fat, eminently visible on the surface, with the resultant texture carrying just as much weight as the kogashi miso with an extra dose of gelatinous mouthfeel: good for your skin, right?

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

The ramen is topped with the same endowments afforded to the kogashi, plus a cheeky naruto. The noodles match those of the kogashi ramen – it’s still a thick broth, after all. While I appreciate Gogyo’s inclusion of tonkotsu on its menu, stalwarts should still visit Ippudo, Osan or Chaco Bar if you’re feeling piggish. Those have superior flavour profiles – especially Chaco Bar.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Chilli shoyu: chicken broth, habanero pork mince, bamboo shoots, tomato coriander, pork belly chashu – $17

Last one (notwithstanding the vegetarian option): the chilli shoyu. Ironically the dark horse (insert chortle), this is an unapologetic bowl of spiciness: chilli chicken broth, chilli oil and a full scoop of habanero pork mince round out this bad boy. This is effectively Gogyo’s take on tantanmen, which itself is a close descendent of China’s dan dan mian. Hot, salty, fatty – with coriander & cubed tomatoes too – all very Chinese. But the miso in the pork mince scoop and the alkaline noodles? Unmistakably ramen.

This would be my go-to at Gogyo if I ever tire of the kogashi shoyu. As if that would happen, heh.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Gogyo – A La Carte

Four bowls, each with their own distinct personality making waves in Sydney’s ramen-obsessed culture. Usually, that would just about wrap up the coverage of a ramen restaurant.

Not this time. Ignore Gogyo’s a la carte menu at your own risk – and FOMO.

Sure, perhaps the Japanesian coleslaw can be given a miss – it’s something you could whip up at home at a third of the cost. You’d also save on sodium, given how salty Gogyo’s is (though credit where it’s due: there’s plenty of yuzu to provide an offset). But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start off the meal – to tickle the taste buds, as it were – with an entree-sized goma kingfish. Fresh kingfish, a rich Japanese sesame paste (that’s the goma talking), and furiously redolent of shiso & nori, this is a naval mine of umami.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Gogyo Gyoza – $14

If cold, raw fish doesn’t cut it, gyoza just might. These medium-sized pot stickers deliver a lot of filling bang for your hard-earned buck. The skin is appreciably thin but holds firm, only yielding its deliciously juicy, porky package upon biting. Inclusions of both chilli and a tartly-sweet gyoza dipping sauce were thoughtful touches.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Crackling piggy roll: Japanese style butter roll, crispy pork, BBQ sauce –

Then there are bigger life decisions to be made: the crackling piggy roll – to order, or not to order? A bowl of ramen awaits, is your stomach up to this?

Well, to help you out: this roll literally elicited exclamations from all three of us after taking our first bites. In my case, some of those exclamations are not fit for publishing. The sticky crunch of pork belly, the buttery, pillow-soft buns, and just the right amount of cleansing slaw. Starve yourself beforehand, if that’s what will take to fit this in.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Nasu dengaku: eggplant tempura, red miso sauce – $12.5

We’re not done yet. If you’re vegetarian but still want to cheat a little, deep-fried nasu dengaku is your ticket. Usually, this iconic Japanese eggplant dish is slathered in miso and grilled; however, that’s perhaps a little too healthy: so it gets the deep fry treatment. Despite this, the batter is so light and airy, it almost reminds me of the ethereal Michelin-starred tempura in Japan. That might be overselling it, but tell that to my empty plate.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Wagyu flank fillet w/shiso butter & grilled king brown mushrooms

Then there’s the wagyu flank fillet w/shiso butter. Allow me to say this next part in capitalised text: IT’S A RAMEN RESTAURANT. WHY IS THE STEAK DISH SO BLOODY GOOD?

*cough*. Well, it is wagyu, for a start. And secondly, good things tend to happen when it’s treated with respect on a robata grill. Third and finally: it helps when a whole slab of shiso butter is melted on top. The result: a heaven that almost made me think twice about ordering ramen.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Red bean & Nutella taiyaki – $10

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

Sobacha sorbet (ordered w/taiyaki)

Only two desserts grace the menu. One of them is taiyaki, a pancake-batter waffle filled with red bean paste. Hugely popular in Japan, I could never figure out why this fish-shaped curio isn’t actually a seafood dish – that’s Japan for you. You might be surprised to know that I’m not a taiyaki fan, as the batter is often quite thick and gluggy. Gogyo’s isn’t an exception; however, the accompanying act of a sobacha (buckwheat) sorbet stole the show with its intense taste of toasty hops. It too however needed some work – its texture is rock-hard.

Gogyo Ramen Sydney

I’m positively shocked that Gogyo’s first foray into the Sydney market has been so well-executed. The restaurant is only in soft launch mode, but the core product is solid. Of course, it’s not their first rodeo, but the accompanying a la carte menu is commendable. The space is inviting, spacious, and quite importantly – properly air-conditioned. Service also seems up to scratch (noted from my second visit) based on the frequency of water refills. It’s a well-balanced formula.

Gogyo’s true test will be consistency, without which shutters many a restaurant. Well, tell you what: I’m happy to be the guinea pig, my return patronage is assured. Again, and again.

The original Gogyo store in Kyoto? At last, the yearning stops.

This post is based on two visits to Gogyo, one under media invite, and the other independently-paid for the day after. As the restaurant is in its soft launch phase, menu items may change without notice. The same naturally goes for dishes featured in this post.

Still hungry for more ramen? Check out these slurp-tastic venues below!

Ramen O-San
Gumshara Ramen
Rising Sun Workshop
Tenkomori Ramen House
Ippudo Sydney
Sokyo Ramen by Chase Kojima (throwback)
Ramen Ikkyu | Sydney CBD (throwback)

And of course, my list of the Best Ramen in Sydney (due for an update soon, methinks!)

The Good:

  • Burning its way into one of Sydney’s best ramen
  • A surprisingly tasty selection of a la carte items

The Bad:

  • Everything becomes too salty or too rich after awhile

The Ugly:

  • Desserts could use some work, as well as an increase in quantity

Would I return: already did – the very next day!

F8 | S4 | A3
8/10 Caesars

Gogyo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2 comments on “Gogyo Ramen | Surry Hills, Sydney”

  1. EL QUAG Reply

    Heads up, Ramen O-San is no longer at Dixon House and moved to another premises upstairs in the Sussex Centre in Chinatown. I’m keen to see your thoughts on the new location, which they have been at for at least six months (guesstimating here).

    Have you also been to Wok & Noodle in Potts Point? Nevermind the terrible sounding name, as this spot is tiny and I believe related somehow to the Ramen O-San of yesteryear (I’m talking only a few short years ago).

    Thanks for a grear review of Gogyo. Cannot wait to visit here!

    • Michael Shen Reply

      Thanks for your comment David! Indeed, I was actually aware of O-San’s move; unfortunately, there would be insane effort required on my part keeping every restaurant in every blog post up to date. Not saying it’s an excuse, but it is what it is :’)

      I feel like blog posts that go past a certain age are too old to be of any usefulness – especially as locations, chefs, and of course the food changes.

      I haven’t been to Wok & Noodle but I’ve heard about it. And nws on Gogyo! Hope you enjoy it!

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