Scenario – Degustation Dinner Dec 8th 2012

November 25, 2013

This is completely untimely being 11months away but forgot to post…

Before the film crew came out for my second degustation dinner, for my first degustation dinner, I had drafted a scenario of what I wanted to explain with each drink and dish. Considering the flow of the evening and mindful of food getting cold etc., I wasn’t able to explain fully all the information behind the dishes, drinks and food pairing, so where else to talk about it to my heart’s content other than this blog!

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Feeling the seasons in Brisbane

February 24, 2013

Started the day vege and fruit shopping at the Northey St Organic Markets in Windsor. The prices here are generally pretty steep, pretty much double to triple the going rate at a normal fruit shop but look carefully and you’ll find the produce in season are still very much within reach of a sensible (stingy) shopper like me.

Oranges are a bargain at $3.00 a kilo at the juice stall, purchased right after finding their juice be super sweet.

Rock melons 5.50 for a large one.

Nectarines at $6.90 a kg were sold out.

Zucchinis were $7 a kg.

Excited to find edamame 9.90 a kilo. Purchased although the pods were tiny and were not a very good crop. Fresh edamame on branches are only available during summer even in Japan.

Pears $4.00 a kg.

Melons, stone fruits, zucchinis, edamame. The rich energetic crop of summer. Pears mean fall is coming. i spotted some slippery jacks and pine mushrooms at the sourced grocer. In japan people go crazy for a different kind of pine mushrooms, but i am guessing the australian version is also a sign of autumn.

Came home cooked some soba and sautéed some mushroom and zucchini for lunch. Cooked edamame for dinner and snacks. Once you pop, you can’t stop!





Sourced Grocer @ Teneriffe

February 14, 2013

Sourced Grocer on Urbanspoon

Dropped in Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe.

Exciting little fresh produce shop with cafe specializing in local produce made with attention and care. Owner Jerome’s point of difference is sourcing out passionate producers and running his own truck to collect the goods himself to bring it to his customers. The shop is small but organized and stylish. The coffee is good and the deli showcases all the great produce sold here. We had the sourced sandwich, a iced latte and took home some Bangalow Cheese and cultured butter, and fresh fruit and veg.

Chatting with Jerome and great to see a business like his thriving. We share a common philosophy of truly believing in the quality of what we sell and enjoying it at the same time. I have always been keen to increase the amount of organic produce we use so seeing if he can help me source some organic shallots.

Just a few of the brands that I picked up.
Blendale Organic Poultry
The Original Bangalow Pork
Bangalow Cheese Co
Pepe Saya Butter
Brambah Organics (Dairy)
Cup Coffee
Choquette Breads

The sandwich was delish. The bread is wholesome and fills you up. Juicy sweet tomatoes, ripe avos, salad, the dressing is yum and the Bangalow ham and the aged Swiss or jarlsberg cheese also very nice. Coffee by cup in westend is sweet and aromatic.

Also inspired by the open warehouse style setting and decor.








Severe weather shop closed

January 27, 2013

Today 27th and 28th public holiday.

Blinds fell down, things knocked over, a bit of a disaster way to start the day. Now shop’s closed, staffs gone home, the rain is still going side ways but in the kitchen, i am at peace. with only the sound of the high power burner boiling my Tonkotsu soup, I am taste testing new feb menu “iekei” ramen and tweaking a few details. I love these moments!





June 20, 2012

Sustainability. We like to do our share and rely on suppliers that share the same philosophy such as Bangalow Sweet Pork. Don’t abuse anybody or resources so that a positive prolonging cycle can be maintained. However, it’s a keyword that’s used over and over again and I wonder whether people stop to think what it means in a personal sense.

I am not too sure about the younger generation but many Japanese people have had the “mottainai” ethics taught into them from a young age perhaps especially me from my mother but we believe that food must be treated with respect. Food resources are limited, farmers have worked hard to grow or raise the food on our table and we must also respect the animals and plants that have sacrificed their life so to become our nutriment. I hate throwing away ingredients and I use most of my ingredients to the fullest such as the ends of charsiu being eaten as charsiu rice, the broken noodle strands, the broken or too well done eggs get consumed during staff meals. Luckily most of my customers seem to share my passion for food and I think for a comparable restaurant size, our food waste is minimal, even on a busy day, less than 1/4 of a 60ltr bin.

The above is a link my friend has shared in his facebook, of a eco-learning school having a session of killing live chickens to eat. To date, I have not had the chance to experience something like that other than a much softer version of fishing and filleting the fish. In the future I would love to participate in something like this with my daughters so that they fully appreciate what food is.

Staff Wanted

May 21, 2012


At Taro’s we are looking for staff to grow together.  We are currently looking for full time employees and candidates for becoming the manager.  We are also looking for casual workers that strongly share our philosophy.  In any position, a strong interest or understanding of Japanese culture, passion or knowledge for ramen are required.  Please tell us why you would be a good candidate for Taro’s.  If your application states your specific and strong interest in Taro’s  we will be sure to get back to you. 

 PHILOSOPHY:オーストラリアで1番うまいラーメンを世界に。飽くなき味、そして食の安全の追求。客、従業員、オーナーのWIN-WIN-WINの関係を理想に楽しくやっております! Spreading Australia’s best ramen to the world.  The relentless pursuit of ramen in taste and safe eating.  To establish a WIN-WIN-WIN relationship between customer, staff and owner. 

 CUSTOMER: お客様に対しては安全最高級の食材を使い、本物の味を最高のサービスで提供し、高評価いただいております。各メディアなどでもありがたくとりあげていただいております。現状Urbanspoon Brisbane CBDレストランランキング340軒中3位。他のラーメン店よりも値段は若干高いですがTaro’sの商品価値を納得して評価してくれて来店してくださるお客様はほとんどが笑顔のリピーターです。 We offer the best ramen using the best ingredients and we are receiving really good feed back.  We currently rank 3rd in URBANSPOON’s Brisbane CBD restaurant ranking out of 340 restaurants in total.  The majority of our customers are happy repeaters that appreciate the value that Taro’s offer.   

 FULL TIME EMPLOYEE:待遇例、現状の正社員の待遇、フリーシフト制週4日勤務労働40時間年収36千ドル(21才女性)。店長になりますと最低年収46千ドルを考えています。最終的には多店舗展開戦略を練る事など、仕事の広がりは無限です。 Free shift roster, 4 days week, 40hrs per week, model salary $36k (21yo female).  A succesful promotion to manager will mean a minimum salary of $46k.  In the future, tasks and challenges are unlimited as the company grows to a multi shop business. 

 CASUAL STAFF:現状アルバイト7名、時給$19.20-$22.30。豪州の労働基準法に則った真っ当な待遇です。加えてフリーシフト制、夜間手当、スタッフクリスマスパーティ、従業員割引など特典多数あり。少数精鋭で求められる職務は多岐にわたりハイペースでハードですが、国際色豊かで笑顔と活気のある職場です。Currently we have 7 casual staff, they are paid $19.20-22.30.  Free shift roster, allowance for night shifts, staff christmas party, staff discounts etc to name a few attractions.  The team is a lean team and high paced.  Multitasking required.  International environment with a good atmosphere.    

 OWNER:夢の実現の為、楽しんでやっています。引き続きお客様とスタッフが満足してくれれば必ずリターンとしてのWINも付いてくるはず!これから2年以内に2店舗目の目処、10年以内に5店舗展開したいと考えています。The owner is having fun trying to realize his dream. Believing that as long as cusomers and staff are happy, the returns should follow.  Would like to establish 2nd shop within 2 years and hopefully 5 shops within 10 years.   

Taro’sの想い/Our Philosophy – In Detail

May 21, 2012

オーストラリアにお住まいの皆様に美味しくて安全なラーメンを ご提供したい。その気持ちを大切にラーメンを作っています。使 用する素材は天然にこだわり、化学調味料、保存料を使っておりません。素材の選択には一切の妥協をせず、鮮度が命の食材は現地で最高級のものを、乾物などは日本の信頼のおけ る生産者の最高のものを取り寄せております。自らの味覚・感性で吟味した最高の材料をふんだんに使用し、研究を重ね編 み出した自慢のレシピで、天然のうまみ成分を最大限に引き出 した体に優しい本物の味を是非ご賞味下さい。

To deliver the safest and the most delicious bowl of ramen ever to Australia. Taro trusts his sense and taste more than anything when it comes to selecting ingredients. Our ramen does not contain any MSG or preservatives and we only use the best natural ingredients. The produce that requires freshness is sought out locally and dry goods etc are gathered from personally trusted suppliers in Japan. Please enjoy the “real flavor” Taro has created by using the best ingredients and his best recipes.

The above is the message we have on our website. Every restaurant has a similar message and it has struck me that although we do really great things, we are not appealing these things well enough to our consumers. We didn’t start from the price. IF we do that, we have to compromise quality to squeeze a profit. We created the ramen and then priced it. When customers spend $15 on our ramen, they are not just getting a quick composition of commoditized ingredients, they are getting a passionate work condensed into a bowl utilizing the below components.

Super Premium Pork from Bangalow Sweetpork – For charsiu and ramen soup, the soup is cooked for 3 days.

Organic Free Range Eggs from Country Range Farming at the Darling Downs – For our famous soft cooked egg

Fresh hormone free Australian Chicken – For soup, we use eating wings which cost 3 times as much as frames or necks.

Home made noodles using our specially imported Japanese noodle making machine and Australian unbleached flour.

Dried fish stock is flown in from Tokushimaya in Osaka, Japan. They tailor make a Taro’s blend mixing in Bonito, Mackerel, Sardine, Squid, Kelp, Scallops, Shrimp, Shiitake Mushrooms.

Bamboo, we don’t like the prepared bamboo shoots available from wholesalers so asked Daiwa Foods QLD to import salted bamboo fermented shoots so we can de-salt them for over 2 days, and then flavour them using only sake, mirin, koikuchi soy sauce and sesame oil.

Organic Nori (seaweed) from Hoshi family in Shichigahama Japan – currently unavailable due to Japan Earthquake and using alternative nori from China. We taste tested 15 different types, none was even close to nori from the Hoshi Nori shop but compromised on one available brand with a super thick characteristic.

Local shallots cut twice every day and soaked in water to get rid of too much stimulative taste.

Cheerful Service. Our staff are happy because they get paid properly and not being taken advantage of. Our wage for casual employees are in line with the legally protected minimum wage for the industry which is $19.20 minimum (present May 2012).

*I should note that currently we purchase our takana, red ginger, mayonnaise, curry paste etc for our non ramen items and these do contain MSG. So if we are to use the same slogan as Coles and many Chinese restaurants that use heaps of Oyster Sauce, Soup stock etc that contain flavour enhancer 621, we are “No Added MSG” for our non ramen items. These items are supplied to customers for their convenience.

Phuc Deli Viet @ Indooroopilly

January 24, 2012

This is a Vietnamese noodle shop in the Indooroopilly shopping centre food court situated adjacent to Pig and Whistle.

The owners are a friend of a friend and thanks to the kind hook up arranged by my friend, I was given the chance to interview them while Taro’s Ramen was still in its feasibility stage.

When i met them, they strongly urged me to stay in the resources industry and that hospitality was not an industry for a person like me (with young family no experience) to venture into. When they heard my plan of noodle shop they raised this shop as a relatively successful outlet but that it requires a perfectly efficient management to make it successful and it was impossible for them to suggest an inexperienced middle aged man could replicate from scratch. If I was so adamant, they told me to first of all get into the actual battlefield and see for myself and that I should get sick of it and give up on my stupid idea of opening up a noodle shop. I guess it is my nature not to listen once I’ve decided… Being a totally over confident arrogant bum, i completely ignored their advice and it was just last Sunday after 2.5 years of receiving their advice I went to see this shop.

Massively popular when I visited there was a cue of about ten people in front of me. Price is 15.90 for a pho or 16.90 for a laksa or curry.

I ordered and watched in fascination as the two cooks assembled the incoming orders. I had gone through enough hardship to realize how sensible their advice was but I appreciated first hand the operation that was described as “perfectly efficient”. Not a second of idling. Efficient to the max. Everything is prepped beforehand and the cook pops the noodles and veggies into the big cooking pot using the noodle baskets. No timers or scales are used just the cooks experience. He does one order in about 30 seconds as fast as the girl at the counter serves a new customer. I just watched in awe as he processed the orders one after another and didn’t even notice my own order being finished when i heard a number about 5 orders after mine was being called.

My wife pointed out that this was normal service and Taro’s is still too slow. I pondered on this point. Our focus at taro’s is consistent quality. noodles are weighed, cooking times are timed by the second and we keep the soup and seasoning sauce separate till the last moment so the taste doesn’t deteriorate. As a result our processing time is slower so there are physical limitations on getting our speed up on par with Phuc Deli Viet but I did get inspired by how efficient they run their operation and customers appreciating the quick turnaround. And this leading to a positive effect of customers returning knowin that they won have to wait long if they come here. I will see if we can apply any of their efficiencies to our procedures to better my turnaround time.

And in relation to the advice given to me 2 years ago, was it a sensible advice? Most definitely. I would do the same if I was in their shoes. Do I regret ignoring it? Course not!!!




お土産ラーメン 昼顔 gift take home ramen “hirugao”

January 14, 2012

My friend M brought me a pack of take home ramen from Japan. This is a collaboration product made by a noodle company under license from a famous ramen shop. This one is called Hirugao. There is a famous shoyu ramen shop in Tokyo called Setagaya and they open up during lunch hour under the name Hirugao serving shio ramen only. Interesting concept to open two distinctly different concept businesses in one shop front.

The taste. It is a quite mild mellow taste probably stewing tonkotsu at intentionally lower temperature and length to not get the emulsification of the usual tonkotsu. This lighter tonkotsu based stock matches well with the string bonito second soup. However can taste really strong MSG and the smell of alcohol preservative and kansui is too pungent. This is why I use sodium carbonate kansui instead of potassium carbonate Kansui for my delicate shio. The strong MSG is sadly a sign of japanese norm so I realize again that this is the reason for many people criticizing my ramen as bland or punchless. I am glad we have enough customers supporting the all natural umami of taro’s. it was a good bowl though, there is rarely a bowl I don’t enjoy and it taught me that shio can be a fully satisfying bowl depending on the recipe an relative position in the menu. (at our shop it is the alternative light healthy choice, at Hirugao it is the only and main star on stage).

Anyway thank you M for your kind thought and also for the good luck “omamori”!









Rosies @ Noosaville

November 21, 2011




Rosies is our favourite restaurant in the Sunshine Coast.  We stop by robinson’s winery which is alo our first choice of accommodation, grab a chardonnay and a cab sav or merlot and head to Rosie’s.  

Without too much logic, I just prefer small personal restaurants. I have the belief that food tastes better in certain personal situations.  I understand that Chefs create the recipes and teach their junior chefs precisely what they should do and those junior chefs generally directly prepare the food.  This is the case in most establishments of a certain size.

However the atmosphere of the cozy tiny establishments are unbeatable. Rosie’s is the restaurant that fits this personal fettish. This establishment has no physical space for junior chefs. It is the owner himself waiting the tables, explaining the days specials and cooking the meals.  He amazingly handles several orders at once and still manages to put out the meals perfectly. 

Actually I tried to get a table on saturday evening and was completely booked out.  There are no thong wearing one timers here, it gets booked out by locals who come here to cherish a special evening. 

I missed out on the dinner so made a booking for sunday breakfst which we have never tried before. 

A very young girl was our waitress, she was professional and effective and had a good smile.  We had the following. 

Big Breakfast 14.90 w extra toast 2.50 (eggs scrambled, mushrooms sauteed w leeks, potatos a bit burnt, sausage is just too plain for me)

Eggs Benedict w smoke salmon 14.90?
(too much vinegar in egg cooking water and eggs not runny enough, too set). 

Lemon Butter Crepe 9.90 (excellent, lovely light butter creme and lemon sauce not overly sweet.  My daughters didnt like it, lucky for us adults who loved it!)

I found the place run by a different person and although the service and atmosphere perfect, the food was not outstanding.  I was looking fwd to seeing the chef with the blue check tea towel on his shoulder so was disappointed to not see him.  Totally understandable considering how busy he must have been the night before and all through the week. 

Then again, the price is pretty cheap too so if u consider the sunday breakfast individually, it is good value and a good feel way to start your day overlooking the traffic and the river. 


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