It usually takes years to learn to become a good ramen chef. The culmination of years of studying, training, and experience go into making a great ramen (for those of you who don't know what ramen is, it is a noodle dish). In Japan, ramen bars and shops are often judged by the proprietor and often the better ones are simple and concentrate on the food. In Perth, we only have a few "real" ramen places of note, well at least ones that stick with the fundamental principles in making ramen.
Kara age Miso Ramen - $17 (ramen with a thick miso soup base)
So what goes into making a good ramen? Many would say that the most important part is the stock or soup base and I would tend to agree. A good stock takes many hours to prepare – including hours of simmering, constant watching over, and adding the right amount of ingredients at the right time. A normal ramen stock also contains a fair amount of fat and salt, and the ramen is properly mixed and aerated through the stock so stock clings onto the noodles and the noodles don’t stick together. For what would normally be considered a relatively simple and "ordinary" meal, many things go into determining a good ramen over a bad or average one.
Arigataya is one of these Japanese run ramen shops in Perth with the self-proclaimed words "Tasty!" and "Ramen!". The ramen is encouragingly similar to ramen available in Japan, with a properly made ramen stock (even with a decent amount of fat and salt), properly aerated ramen noodles, and authentic toppings. Inside, Arigataya is a relatively simple restaurant with Japanese decorations and a fair amount of seating for a ramen shop.
Whilst Arigataya specialises in ramen and the many different variations of ramen on the menu support this, they also offer some other Japanese dishes including udon, teriyaki, katsu, Japanese curry, and some entrees like takoyaki (octopus balls) and gyoza (dumplings). Most dishes are in the range of $10-15.
In terms of the ramen though, Arigataya serves different versions including ones served with pork combinations, katsu, with or without soft boiled egg, and a choice of a soy based or salt based stock. An added bonus to the ramen is that you can order extra ramen noodles for no extra cost - and for someone with an appetite like me that's a great to say the least.
Special Ramen (soy based stock) - $15
This ramen was served in a noodle bowl and had rolled up pork, a soft boiled egg cut in half, a small amount of blanched spinach, a slice of dried seaweed, some preserved bamboo shoots, and topped with shaved spring onion. So far pretty authentic if you ask me. The noodle bowl even had "Arigataya" written on it.
The ramen noodles were 'al dente' not being too soft or having absorbed too much water as is the case with overcooking, but also not floury or hard as is the case with noodles that are undercooked. The pork was good for ramen standards - it was meaty, lightly flavoured, wasn't dry, and a reasonable sized serve (update: though the pork topping has gone through many versions from good to bad, the chef has gone back to making it similar to how it was originally - rolled and roasted, though a tad drier and the size tends to vary each time I go).
The stock was prepared in-house and had bits of fat at the top which is there for flavour - the fat increases the taste of the ramen and with the fat (update: the fat has now been replaced with oil), the ramen should be eaten as soon as it is served as that is when the ramen is at its optimum. The soup was of a good consistency and flavour (though had a fair amount of salt which isn't unusual) that reflected the in-house stock preparation and simmering that made it quite satisfying.
Soft boiled egg topping
The soft boiled egg was lightly salted, had a solid egg white, and a mostly but not completely cooked egg yolk. The egg white was off white, and the egg yolk was slightly soft but not quite as soft as others I have tried.
Special Ramen dipping sauce - $15
The dipping sauce version of the special ramen was very similar to the special ramen as described above. The main difference was that the stock was served in a separate bowl, meaning the noodles were not served in the soup. The noodles in the dipping sauce version also seemed to be slightly thicker but that did not change the taste of the ramen.
Despite the ramen noodles being served "dry", they were still moist, didn't stick together and weren't tangled making it easy to pick up and eat for a dry noodle. The dipping sauce ramen is intended to be eaten by dipping each mouthful of ramen into the soup prior to eating it. You are not meant to pour the separated soup into the bowl of ramen.
Other than the obvious differences outlined above, each of the two ways of eating the ramen were still well prepared and tasted good.
Hiyashioyuka (Cold ramen) - $15
This ramen was served cold where the ramen was not in a stock, but topped with ingredients including ham, shredded omelette, seaweed and vegetables that you could then mix to your own liking. Even though the ramen had no soup, a light soy and vinegar sauce was present giving it a cool and lightly refreshing taste to match the cold ramen. Served for a limited time (ie only really during hotter weather such as summer) overall the Hiyashioyuka was quite a light and refreshing meal, though wasn't a big or substantial meal either.
Kara age Udon
This udon was a pretty standard udon, but unfortunately as the udon is not house-made, you can't get extra udon free of charge. If you don't like your kara age chicken soaked in soup, ask for it on a separate plate.
Takoyaki - $6
Despite commonly being translated as "octopus balls", takoyaki is largely made up of panned dashi (a type of fish stock that is well flavoured but isn’t that “fishy”) flavoured dough, and a small amount of octopus is placed into the middle of each sphere shaped dough ball.
The takoyaki dish consisted of 8 takoyaki topped with takoyaki sauce (a type of Japanese thick and sweet Worcestershire sauce), mayonnaise, and bonito; and served with a hot pickled ginger on the side which altogether isn't bad value.
The takoyaki were nicely round and uniform (for those of you who have had the pleasure of making fiddly takoyaki before). The takoyaki's outer shell seemed quite soft, and the inside seemed very light. The overall taste was good but didn't seem to have a strong taste of the dashi or flavours present in some other takoyaki.
In summary, the ramen at Arigataya is a welcome addition to Perth for its authenticity and taste. The stock is house-made offering a satisfying and full-flavoured soup that makes the overall noodle dish. Though not dirt cheap, the ramen is still good value for what it is.
Points to note: The soup and stock based ramen is made using a proper made stock that gives it an authentic ramen taste. For the ramen dishes, extra ramen noodle is available at no extra cost.
Go for: Authentic Japanese ramen and in their own words "Tasty!".
62 Roe Street
NORTHBRIDGE WA 6003
(08) 9227 7901
Monday to Saturday - 11:30am to 2:30pm; 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Sunday - 11:30am to 2:30pm; 5pm to 9pm