Last updated on March 10, 2016
Genkotsu Ramen has finally opened another outlet at a location closer to the city than Runcorn, which is a boon to ramen aficionados. We’d made the trip out to the original store a few times for the rich broth, but it is a bit of a trek further out than our usual jaunts. I’d say that in Brisbane, the main ramen players are Hakataya, Taro’s, and Genkotsu. All have expanded with more locations recently, likely as testament to Brisbanites’ expanding tastes.
This new store is in the back of a little alley of shops, so you won’t see it from the street. People certainly know where it is though, as proven by the line for dinner on a weeknight. Perhaps the introductory offer of $5 per bowl of ramen in the first few opening days familiarised the locals with its location, or like us, others who had had to travel further before gravitated to the new, more convenient location. Either way, they do not lack for customers.
There is more seating in the new location, perhaps twice that of what the previous location could hold. Which is not to say that it is a massive place, just that now it can fit a reasonable number of customers, and that the original location would almost fit the description of hole in the wall. They have again gone for wooden seats or mini benches, and communal style wooden tables, very much like the setup in Runcorn. To complete the immersion, J-pop was playing from speakers near the front counter.
The tables have the usual assortment of condiments to add to your food: chilli powder, chilli oil, toasted sesame seeds. There are some other ramen places that have jars of pickles too, but not here, unfortunately.
You order at the counter as you enter the restaurant, and are given a number to take to your chosen seating place. The menu is stuck to the glass outside the restaurant, so you can decide and change your mind a few times while you’re in line to get in.
There are a few different options for ramen, allowing you to select between different soup bases, and different proteins to go with it besides the usual pork slices. A selection of extra toppings is also available, and a range of sides like gyoza and karage chicken.
If a black garlic option is available at a ramen place, I find it hard to go past. It just adds extra umami flavour to the ramen. That goes well with the miso soup base here. It’s aromatic and delicious, although those new to ramen might want to go with the regular tonkotsu and miso or shoyu base as an introduction. The tonkotsu broth is rich and hearty. The noodles have just the right amount of spring, and are thin so that they pick up more of the broth as you slurp them up.
They have pork or cheese gyoza options. We’ve had the pork gyoza a couple of times, and they have been good each time. The meat is nicely seasoned without being too salty, and the gyoza skins are thin rather than doughy as some disappointingly are.
The chicken karage comes out hot, with lemon juice to dip. It’s crunchy on the outside, with the chicken still juicy beneath the batter layer. Unfortunately it has tended to be a bit on the oily side. Tasty, though.
The staff are lovely, but overworked. We visited on one of the opening days with the offer of $5 ramen, and that was predictably busy. On a subsequent visit though, there were still lots of customers, but only one person serving on the floor. There were two people cooking in the kitchen, while that poor one waitress had to take customer orders, bring food out to the tables, and clear the tables after people left. That led to a long line outside while there were plenty of empty tables inside.
Hopefully they get they staffing issues sorted. Apart from that, it’s a great eatery that will have people going back for more.
Price point: Ramen $9.50 to $13.50. Side dishes $3.50 to $6.
Address: 51 Sherwood Road, Clements Arcade, Toowong, Brisbane
Phone: 0431 740 476
Website: Genkotsu Ramen