So I've been working non stop and I needed a quick bite after university so the boy decided to meet me after class and we wandered down to Chinatown. What better chance than to try a new ramen joint? Hell I've walked past Ajisen a thousand times it was time to walk in. It's a chain ramen restaurant but it's from kyushu and has 4 decades of success so I figure it's got to be pretty good to stay alive in Sydney where ramen joints abound.
From the outset it wasn't great. I order drinks, they don't have diet coke. Oh okay I think, they have Grape Calpis, no no, they're out of that too, in fact they're out of anything I drink, they're also out of the boy's juice.
We order, a kind of standard order for us. Tofu and gyoza, tan tan ramen for me and karaage ramen for the boy.
Tofu with bonito and spring onions $5.90
The sauce the tofu is in is almost non existent, the ginger that usually comes with such a dish is actually non existant and I dig sadly through multiple layers of bonito before discovering this and put soy on my tofu which is required to give it some flavour.
The gyoza don't actually arrive until after we receive the ramen and they were without anything except for the smallest amount of ponzu but really they were the best part of the meal so I don't really complain about them.
Karaage Curry Ramen $10.90
We were very intrigued by the curry addition to this ramen. Sadly the additions weren't great. The egg was a strange texture and the cabbage was quite wilted. The karaage was obviously prefrozen and contained a great deal of fat and gristle, enough that the boy didn't finish it and I didn't want to :o(
Tan Tan Ramen $11.90
The tan tan ramen was equally disappointing. The soup was separated on arrival and I think it was either powdered or made some time ago and stored. It wasn't particularly rich or hot enough for my tastes. The noodles were obviously dried and not made fresh. There was no egg in my soup and there wasn't really enough vegetables. The pork was quite nice though, but didn't dissolve into my soup in the way that I like.
We left quite disappointed and I didn't actually finish my meal which is extremely unusual in a ramen restaurant. I comment to the boy that the quality is about the same as the tan tan ramen I ordered at a Denny's in Tokyo for breakfast, and really that says it all... the quality is akin to what you get in an American chain restaurant in Japan... at breakfast time.
Ajisen is a fast food chain and really it shows. To be honest if I lived somewhere else it wouldn't have been that bad. Given the comparative quality and the sheer volume of ramen in Sydney and with Ramen-kan almost next door with much better quality food for much the same price I feel no need to return and I wonder that they don't lose a lot of business. I suspect that the main drawcard is that they're open late in the city.
Still they can't all be positive reviews right?
94 Hay Street
Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 8380
No booking required
Limited drinks menu, no alcohol