Musashi Ra­men & Iza­kaya Bar

Time Out (Melbourne) - - FOOD & DRINK - So­nia Nair

TWENTY-FOUR HOUR RA­MEN restau­rant Shu­jinko used to be the only op­tion for par­ty­go­ers han­ker­ing for the Ja­panese sta­ple dish at un­godly hours, but not any­more. En­ter Musashi Ra­men, an af­ter -hours noo­dle-soup pur­veyor on Russell Street near Chi­na­town. Cus­tomers fill up Musashi’s small con­fines in ebbs and flows; no one stays for long, but the restau­rant is never empty – the bright sig­nage draws you in, es­pe­cially when your lizard brain is on a one-track mis­sion for post-party fuel. Con­ge­nial chants of ir­rashaimase! greet din­ers as soon as they step in­side. The heady smell of peanut oil and chilli, the pa­per lanterns strung across the slop­ing roof and the back­ing sound­track of Ja­panese boy­bands could al­most trick your beer-soaked brain into be­liev­ing you’re in Ja­pan. The ra­men menu is de­mar­cated into three sec­tions: sig­na­ture pork tonkotsu, Tokyo-fa­mous chicken shoyu and spe­cial­ity broths. But if you’re wor­ried you’re too far gone to eat ra­men with any dig­nity, there are also four stock-stan­dard Ja­panese rice dishes like teriyaki beef and stir-fried pork belly that’re are eas­ier go­ing for fum­bling fin­gers.

Ev­ery el­e­ment of your soup or­der can be cus­tomised, from the light­ness and spici­ness of the broth to the tex­ture of the noo­dles. The cer­ti­fi­ably chilli-hot Red Dragon ra­men even comes with the op­tion of an ‘ex­tra spicy’ broth for masochists. In­stead of the thin, cir­cu­lar cuts of chashu (slow-braised pork belly) that typ­i­cally fea­ture in ra­men, Musashi’s ra­men are served with a sin­gu­lar slab of unc­tu­ous pork belly. Your braised egg might be slightly over­cooked so don’t look for the spilling yolk, but ev­ery other el­e­ment is metic­u­lously pre­pared – fine noo­dles with an al dente bite to them, black fun­gus and nori that ab­sorbs the rich broth. Bam­boo shoots are a side op­tion, as are ex­tra serves of ev­ery­thing else.

Don’t ex­pect sumo sized serves here: the ra­men are slightly smaller than av­er­age, which is ap­pro­pri­ate for a meal that’s likely to be fol­lowed by bed. And just maybe that late-night bowl of noo­dles is the thing that turns your force five hang­over into a man­age­able dusti­ness that two Panadol and a glass of wa­ter will cure. It’s cer­tainly worth a shot.

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