Where to find good ramen in Auckland
There are many Japanese restaurants in Auckland, some of them offer ramen but few of them can make a proper one. I was lucky enough to have a first-hand experience on trying the real thing in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka and based on that experience I know how to spot the authentic ones; hence I am compiling a list of good ramen in Auckland and here are the ones who made the cut.
Ramen for starters is a Japanese noodle dish, prepared with wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth and the most basic ones are shio, shoyu, tonkotsu and miso, there are also some regional varieties that exist where certain region adds a bit of flair to the basic recipe. What brings ramen to life is the whole experience, but most importantly it is the broth and noodles that were carefully prepared to give that pure flavour and perfect texture. Toppings comes next but is not at vital as the first two, it is added to give additional texture and flavour but is not there as a main element.
Now where in Auckland are these good ramen shops, without further ado here is where to find them.
Let’s start with one of the most authentic one, Tanpopo Ramen. Like how they do it in Japan you have the option to customize your ramen to your liking. You want to add some chashu, perhaps some tenkasu or extra negi, it’s not a problem in Tanpopo. What’s good in here are their broth, the tonkotsu is a must try, very rich it looks like a milky soup, thanks to the long process of boiling pork bones until the collagen melts into the stock.
If you are talking about a very rich broth then look no further, if there are awards for that then this place would have won it multiple times. The stocks flavour is really deep, it is very creamy, event their Tan Tan Ramen which is meant to be spicy is very porky in taste, don’t get me wrong it’s still spicy but at the same time you can taste the tonkotsu broth in there, it is that intense. Another very authentic ramen place to try.
Another North Shore gem is Ramen Lab in Takapuna. This place has earned the reputation of having the richest pork broth in town, giving their ramen depth and authenticity. To really get a taste of their pork broth, make sure to try out their Tonkotsu Ramen as you’ll get to receive the FULL experience. It’s rich, it’s creamy and it’s absolutely delish. Ramen Lab is also famous for their crispy Karaage Chicken and no, it’s not just fried chicken! It’s an authentic Japanese dish with ten times the crispiness so do yourselves a favour and add that order to the table to elevate your ramen feed.
Another North Shore goodie, this place is famous for its Spicy Black Tan Tan Ramen, Sour and spicy black sesame base ramen topped with Vegetable stir-fry, pork mince, bok choy, shredded leek and freshly ground sesame, this is one main reason why most Auckland CBD dwellers cross the bridge to North Shore, but that was before luckily there is a Ponsonby branch now. Still authentic with an added spice and sourness. Not your thing? Then give their Tom Yum Ramen or Kaisen Shio Ramen (shrimp-based stock) a try.
Enough with the North Shore locations, let’s get back to the CBD and it can’t be more CDB than this, located in Lorne Street this place is usually pack with Auckland CBD patrons meaning students, even though it’s in a street where everything costs a fortune these guys still manage to sell affordable ramen without sacrificing its quality. Like Tanpopo and Ramen Lab broth is delicious! Very tasty and what’s even better there are a lot of side dishes here to choose from.
Most of the specialties of the ones already mentioned are tonkotsu, while Ramen Do makes a good one what they do better is their miso ramen, very tasty, mildly spicy but not overpowering. I also heard they cook their broth for 2 days to achieve this great flavour. And if you are a vegetarian they have options for you as they sell this vegetarian ramen which is soy based.
If you want the real Japanese ramen experience then this is the place, the premises is very small, the service is very quick and their broth is legit, you will feel like you are transported to those small Izakaya bars in Shinjuku Golden Gai District. And like in Japan they only sell ramen and gyoza, I wish they had fried rice as well which apparently a popular combo in the land of the rising sun.
If we are talking about specialties Ichiban Ramen in Albert Street is famed for its Spicy Ramen, don’t worry the spiciness level is controlled by the diner, so if you want hell hot you can make it hell hot but for those who wants it less then you can do so as well. This place also is one of those restaurants where you feel like you are dining in a Japan train Station where instead of having normal tables and chairs you will be seated in stools.
Another hidden gem, literally hidden as when we came here we had a hard time looking for it, tucked away inside Crowne Plaza on Elliot Street this place is only known by Auckland’s ramen addicts. If you are looking for generous portions of ramen then this is your place, they are affordable too. The best buy here is their Miso Butter Corn Ramen, it exactly tastes like the one I had in Osaka when we had our vacation there last year. Another specialty they have is this Charcoal Ramen which apparently helps you in detoxifying your body.
Want something cheap but still delivers the flavour then Shoya is for you, located in Upper Queen St this place is popular with university students and its always full packed at lunch time. They offer the traditional shio, shoyu, tonkotsu and miso ramen where it is offered in four different varieties, normal, extra negi, extra chasu or in chicken. Another one not to be missed but make sure you dine in early to be sure you will be seated on time.
This one is something special, they don’t serve a traditional ramen more of a fusion ramen, just pause for a while and imagine this. Cobra Kai Super Mega Ramen, just the name alone makes you think that this is the king of all ramens. So, what is it? Basically, its ramen made out of Rye noodles served with Crispy Fried Chicken, Pork Belly, Barbecue Pork, Kimchi and Mushrooms. Say what Fried Chicken, Pork Belly and Barbecue Pork? Nuff said.