For all of those out there partial to a slurp-provoking bowl of ramen, you’ll know that when it’s good, it’s good — and when it’s really good, it’s really good. But where does the difference lie?
Scott Gault and Katie Shortland were much like any other Australian couple who visited Japan over a decade ago; they fell for the enigmatic and beguiling culture in a heartbeat. And most integral to this allure is, of course, the food.
After a chance encounter with a Japanese businessman at a bar in Tokyo’s Golden Gai suburb, the couple returned to Sydney with an invaluable connection and an open door into one of Japan’s greatest Ramen dynasties.
What followed were countless trips to Japan for Scott to hone his understanding and knowledge of this cuisine, training under masters of the ramen art.
Nonetheless, fast forward a few years. The pair have now opened four of Sydney’s best-known Ramen establishments with locations including Randwick and Redfern and plant-based Lonely Mouth in Eveleigh and Tsukemen Bar, RaRa Chan in Newtown.
A chance visit to Burleigh Heads last year meant Scott — a Brisbane-born ex-pat with sentimental connection to the suburb — laid eyes on the perfect space. And the rest — as they say — is history.
As of now, we have our own RaRa Ramen, having just opened in Burleigh’s vibrant backstreet scene!
The space is reminiscent of an emerald bamboo forest; with moody dimness drawing you in with curves and lines that will have you captivated from entering to the moment you leave. You have options of modest bench/chair table seating, high table vantage points and a bar where you can bow your head and gulp back deliciousness to your heart’s content.
The five pillars of ramen are broth, noodles, oil, seasoning, and toppings. And much like a house of cards, if you skimp in one of these, expect the whole thing to suffer!
Fortunately, these guys have all five rightly squared away as they hand-make their noodles, and only the highest quality free-range components make the grade.
So, what is there to devour?
A staple menu of ramen with their house Tonkotsu being the main attraction, not forgetting to mention the addition of vegan dishes such as the Vegan Soy Shio: complex flavours of grilled tomato and seasoned bamboo all served on a bed of Hakata handmade vegan noodles.
You’ll also find yourself armed with a reasonable number of options to tailor and modify your bowl to your liking: extra toppings and spicing things up, after all, are your prerogative!
A handful of snack items means you can sit at the bar and graze on simpler things like beautifully crafted Pork Gyoza and Chicken Karaage that you just simply must try — the crunch level is out of this world.
For drinks, the bar is looking to please those with a cocktail leaning with some cool and creative sours and highball-esque drinks to bolster an already sexy-looking selection of natural wine and fine-looking beers. Watch this space.
Presently the venue is open Friday — Sunday and wrapping things up early at 9pm. But fear not, this isn’t set to last. In the next couple of weeks, RaRa Ramen will fully develop its position as a cocktail bar after hours with adequate nibbles: textbook behaviour for those who like a post-dinner bite from time to time. Guilty as charged!
Are you feeling withdrawals from being unable to visit Japan? We say don your cold-weather gear and head to this tucked away haven of Japanese tastiness — and slurp like nobody is watching!
Where: 21a/50 James St, Burleigh Heads
Hours: Fri — Sun, 12pm-9pm (will increase soon)
Words by Alex Mitcheson.