We always knew you were bonkers for burgers. And obviously it goes without saying that it's a scientifically proven statistic that 99.6% of humanity is nuts for noodles (the remaining 0.4% are living in isolation on a remote island in the middle of The Atlantic having been cast out of regular society).
So, when we introduced you to the Ramen Burger it came as no surprise that Melbourne went absolutely crazy. The Ramen Burger, hailing from NYC, has been making tidal waves in Melbourne at the recently opened Japanese restaurant, SHIZUKU, and was an instant addition to The Urban List must-try list (which will without doubt see us obese by February folks, but we'll take one for the Melbourne team…).
So, with our belts swiftly unbuckled, top buttons suitably undone, and rapidly enlarging rear-ends in tow, we headed off to Shizuku to see what all the fuss was about, and experience the burger/noodle amalgamation that is the Ramen Burger first-hand.
And boy, we were not disappointed!
Upon entering the Victoria Street restaurant, your eyes are instantly gratified with a roof adorned by uniquely shaded drop-lights, throwing sufficient light to slurp your noodles and slop your burgers with minimal spillage, but also enough dimness to set the mood for a romantic date for two (try to avoid said spillage).
Although the Ramen Burger is a big draw card for SHIZUKU, enabling it to stand out in a town with more incredible Asian cuisine than in all of Asia itself (I may be basing this audacious statement on slightly shaky/questionable foundations, as well as my firm belief that there's no point ruining a good story with the truth), the menu is filled with tasty Izakaya-style morsels to make even the 0.4% of non-noodle likers' mouths water.
We started with the Tuna Tartare & Gyoza 'Crackers' – ground sashimi grade tuna in a Shizuku dressing served with wasabi and deep fried Gyoza skin, and the Shizuku Spring Rolls – spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar & young soy beans, served with sweet chili. Both dishes were exquisitely presented, creatively put together, wonderfully flavoured and simply delicious. Even the avid tuna haters amongst us were pleasantly pleased!
With our taste buds already well and truly tingling and the excitement brewing for what was to come, we virtually leapt out of our seats with joy when the next dish hit the table. The Karaage Popcorn Chicken – a pile of deep fried chicken pieces with SHIZUKU's secret batter recipe that they claim would make even the Colonel jealous, went down as potentially one of the most delectable things I've ever had the pleasure of consuming. Colonel – look out!
Next up we ordered the Wasabi Prawns served on crunchy noodles, and the Octopus Balls (FYI these are ball-shaped squid meat, not the actual testicles of an octopus – just in case your mind went there…). As with the rest of the menu, both dishes looked like we should put down the chopsticks and instead whip out a paintbrush and easel to paint them. The wasabi prawns are an absolute essential for any lover of prawns – up there with the best I've tried.
So all preambles aside, let's get to the stars of the show – the ramen, and the famous ramen burger.
Shizuku's ramen is prepared in the traditional manner over 15 to 18 hours. The menu lets you choose from six types of ramen – most served with marinated char sui pork belly (there's a veg option, too) – shoyu ramen, miso ramen, spicy miso ramen, yasa miso ramen (with three types of miso), tan tan men (based on the Sichuan-style of spicy noodles), and shio sea salt ramen. Slurping up these noodles is an absolute joy, and at around $15 a pop these bowls could easily satisfy 2 people, so give immense bang for your buck.
The ramen burger is certainly a unique experience, so if you're inclined to try every dish on earth before you die it is definitely one to dibble your dabble in. SHIZUKU offers either a miso-glazed eggplant or a soy, ginger & kombu pork belly variety. The noodle bun offers an interesting textural experience – soft cooked noodles on the inside transformed into bun form with a crisp fried exterior. And make sure you put your bibs on as the saucy centre proves slippy and sloppy.
So whilst perhaps not delivering the BEST burger you'll ever taste, or the BEST noodles you're likely to experience, the quirky combination of the two is worth it for the tick-off-the-bucket-list factor.
All in all, SHIZUKU is a winner for 99.6% of the population, so unless you're reading this from a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic – that includes you.
SHIZUKU | 309 Victoria Street in Abbotsford
Website | 03 9995 8180
All Images: Emma Forster.