We’ve rounded up the best spots in Auckland to slurp on oodles of noodles—and we ain’t talking about instant noodles from a packet you picked up from some nameless store on Dom Rd for 14 cents a pop. We’re talking fresh, handcrafted noodles, a complex and flavoursome dashi (broth) with killer additions to top it all off. Step aside instant noodles, you just can’t touch ramen when it’s done right. Unami mean?
Mt Eden locals—miso sorry, your favourite noodle joint is about to get bombarded once we let this cat outta the bag. Purveyors of fine Japanese food and owners of the swanky Kazuya bring us Zool Zool. It’s the perfect mix between cheap noodle joint and sophisticated date stop or fine foodie haven. It’s the little things that set Zool Zool apart—the cute sesame-grinding contraptions on your table, the wine list matched to the different broth options, and the valrhona chocolate truffles for a seriously happy ending. Bonus points to Zool Zool for offering a short list of Zool Men—a ramen bowl with only a tiny quantity of broth, just perfect for these humid Auckland evenings.
We can’t get enough of Ramen Do’s molten eggs—slowly cooked with oozing yolk centres—because they are light years away from the crumbly yolks that adorn many ramen bowls in the city. The spicy miso base is our pick of the bunch and is the perfect rich, salty base that is brewed over two days—as are all of their broths. This results in a high level of collagen, believed to have huge health benefits and anti-ageing effects. And here you were thinking Paleo Pete invented bone broth! The perfect, chewy noodles are handmade on site everyday and many ingredients are imported directly from Hokkaido in Japan. But we’re talking quality AND quantity—trust us when we say you won’t leave hungry.
Browns Bay and Ponsonby
Ramen Takara have been well-known for their amazing bowls of steaming ramen for years (eight to be exact!) served out of their Brown’s Bay restaurant. We’ve heard rumours of people making a weekly run across the bridge just for a bowl of their perfect dashi. Well, you can now avoid that traffic mare if you’re city-side at Takara’s second site on Ponsonby Road that opened last year. The menu features a few not-quite-authentic Japanese options like a distinctly Thai Tom Yum seafood option, but we think you’re better off sticking with the traditional flavour options. The spicy black tan-tan is dark and amazing, if you can handle the heat. For a less sweat-inducing experience, try their superb tonkotsu with springy kikurage mushrooms.
Chop Chop Noodle House
For a hearty bowl of goodness, hit up Chop Chop in Ponsonby Central. Pull up a stool at the bar and marvel at the talented chef doin’ their thing with noodles. It’s an offshoot of the infamous Blue Breeze Inn so it’s no surprise that it shares its mother restaurant’s Asian fusion leanings, fantastic drinks (emphasis on whiskey) and fun atmosphere (possibly because of the quantities of whiskey downed). Pick from a more classic pork or barley miso option, or go southern style with crispy fried chicken, indulge in the meat cut of the moment with a twelve-hour organic beef brisket, or go all out and feast on the cobra kai super mega ramen. It’s super mega all right, loaded with fried chook, pork belly, barbeque pork, kimchi and mushrooms. BYO bib and get amongst this serious meat-out.
Genzui Ramen Bar
This inner city spot is an absolute favourite with locals who live in surrounding apartments or people who are often working til dinner time. The menu lists 17 different types of ramen, from meaty to seafood and from buttery to spicy—you’ll be hard-pressed to make the call. The miso butter corn ramen with pork and veggies is a creamy soul warmer, while the black “detox” miso ramen is spiked with bamboo charcoal powder to give both a rather shocking colour, but with all the detoxifying benefits. This is one detox we could get into while we shred the pounds. If black soup is all too daring for you, Genzui also does soupless ramen which is essentially a salad so it’s gotta be healthy, right? Just look past the huge pile of noodles and BBQ pork and you’re halfway there…
If it’s good enough for Lorde, it’s good enough for us far less talented lot. Regardless of the famous punters, Tanpopo does do a mighty good bowl-o-ramen. The list of flavours available are like a list of the who’s who in the ramen world—they’ve got it all covered. It’s traditional and hasn’t been changed too much for the Western palette—a definitely plus if you’re after an authentic ramen experience. Get your vege fix with the corn and sprout laden miso ramen, or push the boat out and order the slightly strange cheese ramen with BBQ pork. Believe it or not, cheese ramen with slices of American style “cheese” is hugely popular in Korea, and is so wrong it’s almost right—we said almost.
Prefer dumplings? Check out Auckland's Best Dumplings.
Image credit: Chop Chop Noodle House