In Short: RaRa Chan is the fourth eatery in the RaRa empire. Its signature dish is the Tsukemen style of ramen. Definitely worth checking out for its unique dipping style approach. We chose Ebi broth and was blown away. There’s gyoza, beer and a vegan rice bowl too!
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, we ventured to South Eveleigh to check out the brand spankingly new precinct. The industrial elements with a sandstone base of the Locomotive Workshop takes centre stage as does the huge Commonwealth Bank HQ. A slew of eateries are here to support the hundreds of workers that will flock here on weekdays. On a Sunday though, the precinct is slowly taking its first steps. Many of the eateries are operating on a Monday to Friday schedule, but there was one little diamond in RaRa Chan that does a roaring business. It is so reminiscent of the little ramen bars you will find across Japan. Space for just a few inside, and a couple tables outside translates to inevitably putting your name on the waiting list, or takeaway and finding a spot to slurp the delicious ramen.
RaRa Chan’s menu is brief in keeping with Japan where this style eatery focuses on its key competencies. The side menu includes 2 traditional staple izakaya items, chicken karaage and gyoza. Chicken Karaage is a popular Japanese entree consisting of delicious bite size chicken pieces seasoned with their house-made soya sauce (shoyu tare) , dusted with flour and deep fried till golden brown. RaRa Chan’s chicken karaage is textbook perfect crunchy, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, served with a wedge of lemon and mayonnaise. This is finger food at its best.
Gyoza is the other popular Japanese entree. RaRa Chan’s gyoza is a plate of pure delight, with delicately seasoned pork filling encased in a pleated wrapper, steamed to lock in its juiciness, and pan fried to give it a slightly crunchy texture at the bottom of the dumpling. Finally it is served on a plate with a sprinkle of chopped green onions and a side of home made soya sauce vinegar dipping sauce. With each bite, you marvel over the delicate well balanced flavours that fills your mouth that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
For me the stand-out ramen choice at RaRa Chan and one that had me intrigued is their Tokyo Style Ramen – Chintan. In the ramen world there are several types of ramen broth, from Miso to Shoyu. Chintan (清湯) means clear soup that needs to be robust at the same time. RaRa Chan has made the chintan with pork, chicken and sardines to get the complexity of flavours. If that in itself is not impressive enough, the noodles is handmade hakata (thin) noodles that that is cooked to perfect al dente, perfectly complementing the delicate broth. The noodle dish is then topped with 2 slices of grilled chashu pork, , bamboo shoots (menma), half seasoned egg and garnished with pea shoots. The broth and noodle is definitely the hero of the dish but the inclusion of the bamboo shoots and pork rounds off the flavours while the egg adds a different dimension of richness. Overall it was a noodle dish like nothing I have ever tasted before and it has definitely opened my taste buds to the quality and worthiness of Chintan as a ramen broth.
For Sacha, it was the Tsukemen that would take his fancy. Although we have frequented Japan often, it was not style that we had sought out. With tonkatsu ramens, the theatre is the big piping hot bowls of ramen being placed in front of the diner here at RaRa Chan, the theatre is the dipping bowl as a super heated black pebble is placed in the broth. The resulting sizzle and instant boiling of the broth is spectacular. Another facet of tsukemen ramen is the ingredients of the ramen is one plate, and the diner dips the ingredient into the dipping bowl. It does take some practice to not just attack the ramen ingredients. RaRa Chan offers two types of broth, and Sacha opted for the Ebi Tsukemen. The base of the Ebi is pork and prawn and it boy is it spectacular. Think of some of the best chowder you have ever had, and it gives you an inkling of the flavour. It’s deep and layered and thoroughly comforting. Grilled pork chashu on the ingredient side is just perfect. A nice layer of fat keeps it moist, then there is the char of the grill that adds another excellent dimension of flavour. Pickled bamboo shoots, and a whole seasoned egg a perfect partners. Noodles are thicker with the tsukemen style ramen, and it works well with the ebi broth because as it absorbs, sticks to the broth with each dip.
It was our first RaRa experience, and now we really have a hankering to try their sister restaurants to see what other magic they conjure up. A stunning edition to the South Eveleigh precinct and I think one that will continue to attract a big following from those that work in the area and from further afield from diners like us who adore ramen!