The only two days I was out last week, I saw two new ramen shops.
One in the Target foodcourt in Chinatown; and the other in Fitzroy, with yet another crafty neon sign screaming ‘RAMEN’.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking:
What’s the end game for this?
I’m supposed to be the ramen correspondent for Broadsheet, but when this new shop in Chinatown, Bankara, is already renovating for another branch along Swanston street, while the other, merely a pop-up shop of Shizuku from around the corner (but with more craft beers!), what can I offer to Broadsheet that’s anything new?
“ Oh hi ms. editor, there’s this new place, but erm, they serve the same food, same recipes. Just different location. And some new cool Japanese lanterns. “
You get the point.
Yesterday, my friend took me to Pho Hung Vuong in Footscray.
The menu’s simplicity surprised me.
On the board, poorly handwritten, was the English version, the Vietnamese version, and the Chinese version.
There was a queue, but turnover was quick.
We walked out paying roughly $15 per person with side orders of spring rolls and colourful drinks.
No one was there to socialise.
We were there to eat and GTFO, with sweat on our foreheads.
That’s the underlying rule.
It was everything a ramen shop’s supposed to be.
So back to the question, where do we go after ramen?
I think the answer never left.
Every shitty ramen experience (we do pay a hefty $20 a bowl in Melbourne so expectations are high) is a yearning for a good old fashion bowl of pho.
After the heavy tonkotsu fat becomes too much to bear, the clear chicken / beef broth embrace us like old friends.
Ramen will stay, like how tacos are staying.
How souvas and dumplings are staying.
Yet for those of us looking to return to that simple and fulfilling experience that ramen once provided us, my prediction is that we will be falling back to pho.
That is, if the udon movement doesn’t catch on.
But that’s for another post.