Tag Archives: ramen

Men-Jikan Noodle Shop, Geebung

I kept hearing about the ramen and gyoza at Men-Jikan at Geebung. Geebung? It seemed unlikely.

Owner Terry Forbes is an Aussie chef who has stumbled into the clutches of the Great Ramendo and opened his unassuming restaurant in the Railway Parade strip shops opposite Geebung train station. He’s there right between the post office and the Salvos. Furnishings are basic but the food is good. This is the way of the Ramendo.

I’d heard a few people talk about the ramen and gyoza at Men-Jikan. They were particularly insistent that the gyoza was good. Then I heard that Taro of Taro’s Ramen had been inspired by Terry’s miso ramen to create his own version. This pretty much sealed the deal for me. I needed to visit Men-Jikan for myself.

I arrived a little before my dining companion, met Terry and wasted no time in ordering the gyoza. We were Terry’s only customers at around 1:30 pm and within minutes we were talking about takuan (fermented daikon pickle), Japanese breakfasts and Terry was checking out the parcel of Malaysian foods my Mum had brought back from her trip for me to try.  Somehow between chatting with us, Terry managed to cook and serve us truly delicious gyoza filled with pork mince and cabbage, perfectly cripsy on the bottom, along with takoyaki (octopus balls with bonito flakes and kewpie mayo) and a mix of Japanese pickles, including his own pickled mustard greens, takuan, lotus root and ginger.

We both had Terry’s miso ramen, mine with the addition of kimchi. The miso broth was very good, rich with plenty of depth. Bamboo shoots, firm noodles and thick slices of char sui pork along with half a boiled egg nestled in the broth. The egg is plain, rather than sho-yu tamago (boiled eggs steeped in soy after cooking), but all the ingredients work well together. Ramen prices range from $12 – $15 which makes it a good deal, particularly for the generous amount of well flavoured pork. Excellent texture too, succulent and fatty with out being cloying and mouth coating. As we chatted a couple of locals wandered in, not to eat, but with a guitar to strum and sing out behind the kitchen and chat with Terry. He’s that kind of guy.

Men-Jikan also has the unlikely endorsement of Warwick Capper, who visited and signed the wall. Capper just went up a notch in my estimation.

If you find yourself in this part of Brisbane, I highly recommend a visit to Men-Jikan. Terry’s a great host, the food is good and it’s easy to park out the front. Oh, and have the gyoza!

Men-Jikan Noodle Shop

1/16 Railway Parade

Geebung Qld 4032

07 3265 5665

Restaurant Review: Taro’s Ramen and Cafe, Brisbane

Here in Brisbane, Japanese food has become ubiquitous, the go-to ethnic food for when you’re after something tasty and relatively inexpensive.  Sushi places are in every food court and in the CBD there’s at least one for every city block, often more.   At the ‘fine dining’ end of the market there’s Sono, Oshin and very soon Shaun Presland’s Sake which will open at Eagle Street Pier in the next few months.  Shinichi Maeda, formerly of Wasabi at Noosa (and Sunshine Beach before that) will be head chef at this new location.

The Brisbane CBD generally suffers from a lack of choice when it comes to mid-priced, casual restaurants.  The sort of ‘come as you are’ place with a short menu of simple unfussy food, a good wine list covering the basics and warm, friendly staff.  The stuff of my fantasies.  And oddly, the stuff that neighbourhood restaurants in Japanese cities are all about.  Which is why Taro’s is my new favourite place.

Every claim Chef Taro makes about his food is spot on.  They really do have the best Japanese curry in Brisbane.  And that’s not even the main event.  The tonkotsu ramen is made with an amazing stock, lovingly made by simmering Bangalow pork bones for 16 hours.  Taro’s handmade noodles are delicate with just the right amount of bite.  And it doesn’t stop there.  There are five ramen dishes with variations on stock, sweet bangalow pork slices, beautiful organic nori that crackles and sparks with iodine, house made char sui, pickled ginger and mustard greens, perfect soy eggs and crunchy bamboo shoots.  The deeply earthy and smoky chilli oil is also highly recommended. 

For a mere $1.20 more than the food court, you can try ‘the best chicken curry in town’.  Chef Taro delivers.  Again, Bangalow pork bone stock forms the base, the curry sauce is deep and complex without the acid after taste you’ll find in the food court version.  It is accompanied by expertly prepared japanese rice and your choice of chicken, pork, veggie croquettes or prawns and a topping of sweet lotus root pickles.

For now I’m addicted to the ramen, but I’m keen to grab a few friends for Chef Taro’s sweet pork shabu shabu.  After a long wait Taro’s now has a liquor license and small but well considered list.  For example, you can have an Asahi for $6.80 or a bottle of Bridgewater Mill 2008 Chardonnay for $33.

The casual dining area is comfortable and one of the CBD’s best kept secrets, stretching out onto a cool and private outdoor terrace.  Even the way the tables are set and the beautiful Japanese handpainted bowls and spoons demonstrate Taro’s passion and attention to detail.  Staff are friendly and welcoming and as Taro points out, paid at or above the Award.  Yet another point of difference over the food court ‘competition’.

Taro’s is open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner.  For just over $20 you could do worse that a cold Asahi and a bowl of Taro’s beautiful ramen.